The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has changed the face of medicine. and is working to change the way we practice medicine and view patients in the future. Although it was signed into law in 2010, it has taken the years since to be implemented, and to take hold in the world of health care. Although the Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has touted positive change for medical care, speculators and researchers have been analyzing the potential effects based on the proposed plan since its passage, medical malpractice defense attorneys in Florida report.
Since Obamacare did not take effect until January 2014, researchers and analysts have had little information with which to predict the positive or negative impact of the law on American health care; although this did not stop several from making speculations. Now that there are nearly nine months of evidence and data to look into, a panel of expert analysts –two actuaries and a veteran medical malpractice underwriter – gathered at an actuarial conference to review the available demographic statistics and trends in the health care industry, to predict what the next 10 years or so of ACA health care will look like for everyone involved. Their report was published in June 2014 in the Claims Journal, and highlights some major changes that doctors and patients should be prepared to see.
One significant change that these researchers predict is an upswing in malpractice claims and lawsuits, medical malpractice defense attorneys in Florida report. Because more people are receiving health insurance, some for the first time in years, if ever, the number of patients with potential liability claims will go up. Researchers predict that almost 22 million people will join the ranks of insured Americans as a result of the ACA’s requirements over the next few years.
Elke Kirsten-Brauer, the chief underwriting officer for a company specializing in insurance coverage for medical workers, says that this rapid influx of people into the insurance and medical systems will be complicated by the fact that for many, this is their first experience either ever or in several years with the health care system. They will also be unfamiliar with its workings. This newness can increase the likelihood of miscommunication and misunderstandings, all of which can lead to a lawsuit against the treating doctor or facility.
Another contributing factor is the ACA’s emphasis on team-based care, which will carry several risks, the experts said. As patients are transferred from doctor to doctor, there is an increased chance of miscommunication, and doctors run the risk that they will be mistreating a diagnosis, or missing a medical emergency altogether. There is also increased risk of losing the continuity of care and the personal connection that is established in the older, primary care physician model. Kevin Bingham, a casualty actuary and one of the panelists, said that “most med-mal claims start [with] a loss of connection to the patient.”
Increased risks for malpractice lawsuits brings increased pressure for doctors to maintain diligence and high standards of care, medical malpractice defense lawyers in Florida say. At Lubell Rosen, a health care law firm with offices in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and New York, our attorneys offer legal counsel and representation to doctors who are struggling to work within the confines of ACA without seeing legal repercussions. Contact a Lubell Rosen attorney today for a free, no-strings consultation about your case.