Whether you agree or disagree with the politics of it, there is little doubt that the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) will have long-reaching effects on the health care system in the United States.
What the Affordable Care Act does
It’s not easy to boil down more than 1,700 pages of legislation to a few sentences, but ACA requires everyone in America to either buy health insurance or be assessed a tax. This forces young, healthy people into the insurance market as a way to keep the overall cost of health insurance under control.
It also standardizes what insurance policies are required to cover. For example, insurance companies can no longer reject people due to pre-existing conditions. According to the federal government’s health care website, policies must now include coverage for the following:
- Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
- Emergency services
- Hospitalization (such as surgery)
- Maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born)
- Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
- Laboratory services
- Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
- Pediatric services
How will the ACA affect jobs?
For medical billing and coding specialists and medical assistants, the new law does not have any effect on how they do their jobs and their day-to-day functions within hospitals, physicians’ offices and clinics.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over the next 10 years, medical coding and billing specialist positions will increase by 22% while the need for medical assistants will increase by 29%. This is due primarily to the aging U.S. population, which will require more doctor visits, more tests and more procedures.