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Did the Affordable Care Act Just Destroy Healthcare as We Know It?

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I have a sneaking suspicion the Affordable Care Act and the launch of the online insurance exchanges may have an impact most of us didn’t expect. With the online exchanges now live, they represent perhaps the first significant step to transfer control from ‘the healthcare system’ and put it fully in the hands of the individual. This is the foundation of the move to a People-Centered model of care.

Consumers can now go online to buy insurance — how long before they begin doing the same for the provision of care?

It used to be that my insurance choices were limited to the carrier my employer selected. These insurers determined what would be covered for me in my health and wellness. The same is true in socialized healthcare systems like Canada where the Ministry of Health determines what is available to its citizens.

But in this day and age of Amazon, eBay, and Google, I am used to shopping online for anything I want, from anywhere, and after a few clicks and a short delay, getting it delivered right to me. Gone are the days when I was limited to the choices available at my local grocer or department store. An entirely new world that is only limited by my desires and ability to pay has been opened to me.

With the insurance exchanges now operational, and the exploding capabilities in smartphones and “mHealth,” how long will it take before I can shop for whichever health and wellness services I want, delivered from anywhere? How long until I am no longer limited to the services the Minster of Health or my ACO makes available to me?

When that day arrives (and it’s already here in some respects) healthcare providers and insurers will need to adjust to the new world and provide services people want in order to survive. What’s more, the massive shift occurring is not just in sharing risk through shared savings and bundled or value-based payments. What is, in fact, happening is the birth of truly people-centered models of care where they will need to focus less on what they do TO me, and more on what they can do FOR me. And that’s because I will have more even power to choose than ever before.