The health of healthcare

New Paltz Chamber of Commerce President Michael A. Smith. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

New Paltz Chamber of Commerce President Michael A. Smith. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The movement toward implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act will continue in 2013 as one of the very biggest issues in American society. It’s going to be as big an issue in 2014, and in 2015 as well. And every year beyond that for perhaps a decade. So we might as well be prepared to deal with it.

Health insurers and most provider organizations are better prepared than they were a couple of years ago. The provisions of the federal legislation require them to come to terms with the subsidized healthcare benefit exchanges scheduled to go into business in every state of the nation less than a year from now.

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Other deadlines are looming, too. The players are scrambling to participate in a variety of experiments, figuring out how most effectively to find their niche in cooperation with other healthcare organizations. Most if not all are also wrestling with the implementation of electronic health records and other tools of information technology.

By October 31 of this year, health insurers will be competing for New York customers in the state-run health benefit exchange. This is no small enterprise. New York, one of the most aggressive states in setting up its state-run health benefit exchange, is getting tens of millions of dollars in the form of federal grants to fund implementation.

According to the 2009 American Community Survey, some 121,000 of the medically uninsured in the seven counties of the mid-Hudson region (Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties) will gain coverage as a result of the ACA. With the state health benefit exchange in place, the uninsured in the region will decrease from 15 per cent to nine per cent of the population.

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