RICHMOND — Local health care providers in Madison County say it may take several years to see exactly how the Affordable Care Act will affect the area, but they are preparing for the changes.
Some are already benefiting from the law, but other providers fear they may have to offer some services at a loss in the future.
The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold the majority of the Affordable Care Act caused strong reactions in Americans, often based on political affiliation.
However, what was unclear is exactly how the changes in health insurance and services will affect people at the local level.
Eighteen percent of Madison Countians under 65, or nearly one out of every five people, do not have health insurance, according to the most recent County Health Rankings report, released in April.
This was an improvement on the report’s 2011 findings, which had 20 percent of Madison Countians without health insurance. The national rate for 2012 was 11 percent, and the state percentage is 17 percent.
It’s estimated 300,000 additional Kentuckians will become eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage in 2014, and about 220,000 families will become eligible for tax credits to help purchase insurance, according to Madison County Health Department spokesperson Christie Green, citing Kentucky Voices for Health.
“MCHD’s community health assessment identified access to health care as a significant health issue in Madison County, and reducing barriers to care is a priority for us,” Green said. “It is our hope that the ACA will help assure access to quality health care and make prevention a priority in Kentucky.”
Green noted that a main tenet of the ACA is to transform a “sick-care system” into one that focuses on prevention and wellness. The goal is to reduce healthcare costs by protecting and preventing chronic illnesses, Green said.
Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes cause seven in 10 deaths in America and account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website, www.healthcare.gov.