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Affordable Care Act offers incentives for better long-term care

iStockphoto | Fuse | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | Fuse | ThinkStock + Scrubs

As we gear up for the rollout of new healthcare stipulations under the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – we begin to look at what the real impacts will be on our workplaces. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, you’re bound to see some changes in whatever type of facility you work in.

One aspect of the new law that has already been put into practice in some areas of the country is incentives for innovative new programs that help improve payment and service models. One of those programs is the Accountable Care Organization at the Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, N.J.

The program offers patients an incentive to be proactive in taking care of their own health, and they can earn points when actions to protect their health are taken. Those actions can be rewarded with gift cards and other perks.

The program seeks to move away from the “treat ‘em and street ‘em” attitude of many hospitals, which we wrote about earlier this year. Instead, it encourages the development of programs that give frequent users of the ER long-term help rather than short-term solutions. This is particularly important since many of those who frequently use the ER for treatment are low-income citizens with chronic illnesses.

NJ.com reports that repeat ER customers represent 1 percent of the U.S. population. However, they account for 21 percent of the nearly $1.3 trillion Americans spend on healthcare. Though the programs designed to combat this trend are only indirectly tied to the Affordable Care Act, it will be interesting to see what other similar programs pop up across the nation.

Do you think these types of programs will actually help reduce ER visits and costs?

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