With this post, we are pleased to introduce ACAView, a joint initiative between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and athenahealth.
2014 marks the launch of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) most important coverage expansion provisions, designed to dramatically reduce the number of uninsured Americans. Between now and the end of 2016, millions of individuals are expected to sign up for subsidized insurance coverage through newly established health care exchanges, or marketplaces.
Other tracking initiatives are closely monitoring the number of individuals that sign up for this coverage as well as those that take advantage of expanding Medicaid coverage in some states.
With ACAView, we will take a different approach. We will focus on the provider perspective; more specifically, how the ACA affects the practice patterns and economics of physicians and other care team members around the country. This is also part of a wider effort, Reform by the Numbers, RWJF’s rich source of timely and unique data about the impact of health reform.
ACAView will monitor the impact of coverage expansion on a monthly basis, mining insights from athenahealth’s cloud-based network of more than 50,000 providers and 50 million patients.
athenahealth is a technology and services provider that delivers physicians the tools and support needed to manage the business and clinical aspects of their medical practices. Our cloud-based, centrally hosted software platform provides us with near real-time visibility into practice patterns of physicians around the country.
Our goal is to inform, exchange ideas, and provide a timely, front-row view of how this landmark legislation affects a robust cross-section of providers across the nation. In subsequent reports, we will examine an evolving set of metrics that address a broad range of topics.
We will also share our analyses on the extent to which our providers represent all providers in the US. For more about our data on practices and patients, as well as our preliminary list of metrics, please read our Methodology report.
No Meaningful Change to Date in New Patient Volumes
Among the many unknown questions surrounding coverage expansion is the number of new patients physicians will accommodate. This is a critical issue because one of the goals of health care reform is to allow individuals to form stable physician relationships, rather than seek care in high-acuity settings or forgo care altogether.
If the ACA is working, we would expect physicians to see a higher percentage of new patients over the course of the year. Over the long term, this number should eventually return to historical levels as these new patients become established.