Provisions of the Affordable Care Act that have been put in place in 2013 have forced collection agencies and health care providers alike to quickly acclimate; but even more changes are due for 2014. While one of the most noteworthy changes of 2013 was the launch of health insurance exchanges, or marketplace, 2014 will be the year when the individual mandate begins, which will require U.S. citizens to be insured or pay a penalty.
Many who work in health care and the collection industry are viewing the onslaught of changes due to the new health care law with a wait-and-see attitude. “It seems like most people want to see how others will handle the changes to ensure that they don’t miss anything” said Mnet Financial Collection Manager Stacy Vink. “People who work in health care expect that there will be more changes as Obamacare continues to be implemented,” she further added.
The law has faced many changes since it was originally passed in 2010. The Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012, but also chose to strike a provision requiring states to expand their individual Medicaid programs. Since this gave tacit permission for states to opt-out of Medicaid expansion; at least 25 have chosen to do just that as of today.
In 2013, the implementation of the employer mandate was pushed back from 2014 to 2015. This mandate will require businesses with at least 50 full-time workers to provide health insurance coverage to their employees. Obamacare opponents have also made clear their opinion that the individual mandate portion of the law should likewise be delayed by a year.
No matter what future adjustments are made to the health care law, a vast majority in the field expect high-deductible plans to steadily grow in popularity as Obamacare becomes fully implemented. Mnet Financial CEO, David Hamilton pointed out that those who are first time purchasers of health care are most likely to sign up for the bronze plans in the health care marketplace. Lower tier health plans typically have lower premiums but also have much higher deductibles than other available plans.
“What we are seeing happening is that people are going from being uninsured altogether, to underinsured because the finances of so many Americans drives them to choose the plans with the lowest premiums, which also happens to be the plans with the highest deductibles,” said Hamilton. “Many do not fully understand the plans that they have purchased anyway, and unfortunately, won’t be prepared to pay for their deductibles and coinsurance when the time comes,” he further added.
Recent health care reports have noted that providers have already seen an uptick in bad debt because so many consumers are choosing higher deductible health plans. “I’ve had several clients’ mention that they have patients who are concerned over the self-pay portion of their medical bill stemming from their high deductible health plan” said Mnet collection manager Vink. “When I hear this, I point out that Mnet Financial offers numerous programs and financial services to help patients resolve medical debt such as our MedDraft payment plan system, and pre-collection services like payment monitoring and early out program” said Vink.