American Medical Association’s take on the ACA

Healthcare reform has been a contentious topic in the U.S., and has only escalated since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Dr. Ardis Hoven, Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association, in a keynote address at the Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress and World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress described the ACA as “The most sweeping change since Medicare in 1965… a bill with effects that can be felt everywhere.” She went on to describe the AMA’s participation in the development of the bill as, “Only the first step to improving our healthcare system, not the last.”

The AMA’s support for the bill comes from a shift in focus from “treating the sick, to keeping people healthy,” as Dr. Hoven describes it. This is an important distinction to make, and one that saves employers and insurers a lot of money. Last year the U.S. spent $2.3 trillion in healthcare. Non-communicable diseases like heart disease, cancers, strokes and diabetes are largely preventable, but make up over 75% of all healthcare spending. An employee with diabetes, for example, costs an employer $4,413 more than a “healthy” employee. By transitioning to a system based on preventative care, a large portion of these costs can be avoided.

The “transition to a collaborative approach,” is a shift from quantity of care to quality of care, as Dr. Hoven describes it. Dr. Hoven finished her presentation with a plea to create a “healthier future for ourselves, our businesses and America. Each of us has an opportunity to help.”