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Insurance Exchange Marketplace: Implications for Emergency Medicine Practice

  • Author(s): Rankey, David S.
  • et al.
Abstract

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires states to establish healthcare insurance exchanges by 2014 to facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans. States are required to establish exchanges for small businesses and individuals. A federally operated exchange will be established, and states failing to participate in any other exchanges will be mandated to join the federal exchange. Policymakers and health economists believe that exchanges will improve healthcare at lower cost by promoting competition among insurers and by reducing burdensome transaction costs. Consumers will no longer be isolated from monthly insurance premium costs. Exchanges will increase the number of patients insured with more cost-conscious managed care and high-deductible plans. These insurance plan models have historically undervalued emergency medical services, while also underinsuring patients and limiting their healthcare system access to the emergency department. This paradoxically increases demand for emergency services while decreasing supply. The continual devaluation of emergency medical services by insurance payers will result in inadequate distribution of resources to emergency care, resulting in further emergency department closures, increases in emergency department crowding, and the demise of acute care services provided to families and communities. [West J Emerg Med. 2012;13(2):169–171.]

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