Signed into law on March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to face legal challenges, implementation delays and the re-emergence of cost as a pressing concern. Yet even with those caveats, the law in its first five years has forged a path for major shifts in an industry that represents about 18% of GDP. Not since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, has a piece of legislation sparked such significant changes in a leading sector of the economy.
Though the groundwork was laid in advance of the law’s enactment, health industry business models and imperatives will likely never be the same post-ACA. Five trends – both directly and indirectly influenced by the ACA – have ignited this transformation.
With a major US Supreme Court case looming and shifts in the balance of political power, there is still the possibility that the ACA could be further revised or defunded. And new taxes and fees add to existing downward pressure on revenues. Despite the challenges, these key trends —accentuated and accelerated by the law—continue to push forward, building opportunities and risks within the New Health Economy.
Industry leaders must recognize that traditional ways of doing business are rapidly shifting toward a post-ACA system. While many healthcare players are walking the tightrope between old and new, eventually the “new” will become the “norm.” As such, each sector must be forward thinking and flexible. Paramount to remaining relevant is the willingness to innovate: to develop strategies that meet the demands of new healthcare consumers, to pursue alternative business models, to adopt new technologies and to take on new roles and activities.