In the world of health care, change is never-ending. Politics, government regulation, scientific advancement, technology, and the economics and financing of health care foster shifts to reshape how care is delivered and how much it costs. Many of these shifts are completely invisible to us as health care consumers. But they also drive what is happening to and around us, determining availability and affordability of physicians or other services.
This came home to me last month when we had friends over for dinner, and the conversation turned to our work. I mentioned Accountable Care Organizations and got blank stares. The Affordable Care Act of 2010—yes, the one that created Obamacare—also authorized new methods to save money. One of those methods is Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs, which began in 2012. There are several in and around our city of Chicago. Over ten years later, many consumers are completely unaware of their existence, and most importantly, how ACOs may affect their own health care.
Does it really matter if you, as a health care consumer, are unaware of major trends and changes in the business of health care? I think it does. Otherwise, as these changes are implemented, you respond to new systems without understanding the implications or knowing how to influence your own situation.