When the official Affordable Care Act (ACA) website launched in October, it had more than its fair share of problems. While the site still isn’t 100% perfect, people all across the U.S. are signing up for healthcare coverage. How does this new Act affect individuals specifically with chronic pain conditions? Here is a quick look at a few of the provisions included.

Under the ACA, pre-existing conditions will no longer be a reason to deny insurance coverage.

The first and biggest new provision in the law is the change regarding pre-existing conditions. In the past, insurers were able to deny coverage for anyone for any reason, including chronic conditions that led to the need for insurance coverage. Individuals who have chronic health issues are now able to get coverage if they were previously uninsured or better coverage if their previous plans were inadequate for their treatment needs.

Hospitals and specialists will also be given additional incentive to treat patients who arrive with chronic conditions. These financial incentives will increase the participation in treatment for chronic care.

The Affordable Care Act also promotes the formation of Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs.

These will provide a source for coordinated care across a patient’s need for specialized services. In the past, patients were expected to re-explain their condition and their needs to several doctors to prevent incorrect diagnoses, improper drug interactions, and other complications. There is hope that with the ACA, medical providers will be motivated to join ACOs and create an integrated and managed experience for their patients.

The Affordable Care Act, in many ways, was designed for patients dealing with chronic illnesses and pain. The inability to deny coverage to anyone in regards to preexisting conditions and the probable formation of ACOs will help individuals better manage their own care and have access to doctors and specialists they may not have had in the past.

You can read more about the ACA in this time line from MedCity News or here at HealthCentral.

Image by Alan Cleaver via Flickr


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