Monday, July 2, 2012

A Side Note about the Affordable Care Act

It should be news to no one that the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and specifically the mandate that all Americans should carry health insurance, was upheld last week by the Supreme Court. As a naturopathic physician, I recognize the importance of this piece of legislation, both in terms of the consumer protection measures taken, and in it's political importance in terms of allowing debate on health care reform to remain open. Even so, it's far from perfect, and health care will need further reform in the future (starting now).

One small victory that you may not know was gained in the ACA was Senator Harkin's amendment (Section 2706 (a) of the PPACA), an amendment that bars health plans and insurers from discriminating in plan coverage and participation based on provider type. That may sound fairly verbose, but what it means is that all types of healthcare providers licensed in a given state will be able to bill insurance for services rendered. While this will mean that so-called 'alternative' professionals such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, and yes, naturopathic physicians, will be able to bill insurance directly, it also means that many other small professions will now be covered by health insurance - these include physical therapists, optometrists, nurse practitioners, and other more 'mainstream' healthcare providers who may not be able to bill health insurance plans in all 50 states.

Many of you are already using these types of providers, and it's only right that you be able to use your insurance to pay for their services. This amendment will go into effect in January of 2014, and while that's still some time off in the future, the victory is an important one.