As we reflect on the past, consider these five changes impacting the healthcare community in 2016.
1. Insurance Reforms:
During the 2016-2017 year, insurance premiums are expected to increase by about 5% or more. To cope with the rise in cost, employers are expected to place the rising costs on employees, with reduced premiums often available through wellness program. Extended payment plans are also in the works for the cost of specialty medication, along with lists of options being made available for alternatives. Written consent from doctors may become a required for specialty medication. Investigation into the spike in medication prices is also expected to occur in the coming years, though it is unclear how far this process will go.
2. Merging Companies:
Several major insurance marketing mergers are in the works, with some major names such as Cigna and Allergan being offered several billion dollars. Medical technology companies have also merged and hope to create more precise and reliable devices.
3. Medical Information Management:
With the Affordable Care Act requiring the U.S. population to have some form of healthcare insurance, the currently overwhelmed and understaffed medical community faces the challenges of managing this massive intake of medical information. Due to the sheer quantity of information, it is now more than ever important for clear communication between medical agencies, and the protection of said information from hackers.
4. Medical Technology – Pros and Cons:
The 2014-2015 year saw a major growth in the downloading and use of online mobile medical apps. Telemedicine and video appointments are becoming more prevalent, allowing the costs of a regular in doctor’s appointment to reduce from $150 down to $40-$50. However, as with medical information management, the problem of cybersecurity and hacking has become more important than ever if this trend continues. There are growing concerns about the hacking of remote access medical devices, although no current attempt has been reported.
5. Politics in Healthcare 2016:
Finally, in the coming political year, debates over the Affordable Care Act by both the Senate and the House look to either reform or remove the ACA, though “a full repeal of the ACA is highly unlikely given President Obama’s promise to veto any bill that hits his desk.”