08 Jun 2012

Did you notice the revolution?

08 Jun 2012

When I think of revolution, the first thing that comes to mind is overthrowing a government or a complete upheaval of the social structure. But after checking the dictionary I see that a revolution can be any “marked change in something,” meaning the revolution doesn’t have to be so dramatic to have a long-lasting effect.

Obamacare for example was a revolutionary law. From the controversial individual mandates to the increased coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, the aftershocks of the proposal becoming law were quickly felt. I’ve paid most attention to the way the law has brought various underlying issues to the forefront: coverage transparency, insurance complexity, and most of all, healthcare efficiency. The law is forcing hospitals, doctors, and insurers to streamline processes and procedures in order to bring their costs under control.

“We have definitely found religion,” says Dr. David T. Feinberg, President of the UCLA Health System, in a recent New York Times report. “After years of self-acknowledged profligacy, hospitals, doctors and health insurers say there is a strong effort under way to slash the rate of growth in the nation’s $2.7 trillion health care bill by roughly half to keep it more in line with overall inflation.” UCLA in particular is trying to “reduce its costs by 30 percent, or hundreds of millions of dollars, over the next five years.”

President Obama’s reform is set to systematically overhaul healthcare as we know it. In a world where we’re paying higher premiums, and more for treatments, procedural reviews are just the tip of the iceberg. Even if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire law the revolution will continue. “Regardless of what happens to the law, the market will force the system to become more efficient,” said Paul H. Keckley, the Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research arm of the consultant Deloitte.

As providers become more efficient, their operating costs will decrease, and as a result so should the cost of healthcare. The next step in the healthcare revolution will be seen in the prices we pay for premiums and treatments.

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