August 12, 2012

The Affordable Care Act and Travel Nursing

With the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Healthcare Staffing Agencies are now assessing how the more than 1,000 page document will impact their contingent labor, hospital clients and company. The goal of the ACA is to extend healthcare coverage to millions of Americans that are not currently covered through mandates for individuals and employers, subsidies for people who can not afford coverage on their own, consumer-friendly rules clamped on insurers, tax breaks, and marketplaces to shop for health plans.

Although hospitals and healthcare groups have praised parts of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, hospitals still face tough challenges when the 2014 regulations kick in, The Washington Post reported. Although hospitals won’t have to bear as much of the cost of treating the uninsured, according to The Post, they still must comply with quality-care regulations to qualify for reimbursement. Payments will be based on readmission rates and patient satisfaction scores. Physicians will also be under the same guidelines. Starting in 2015, doctors will get paid for keeping their patients healthy not necessarily for every test and procedure.

As for the individual American, traveling nurse or otherwise, they will be required to secure health insurance under the new bill. The need for travel nurses to take permanent positions to secure full health insurance will no longer be an issue. Though most travel nursing agencies offer health insurance, travel nurses will also have the option to obtain insurance through federal subsidies or private insurance companies without being denied for pre-existing conditions.

Though it will take up to two years for all the regulations in the healthcare reform bill to be in place, analysts say the Affordable Care Act will positively affect the nursing and physician’s field and the staffing agencies that employee them as the demand for healthcare workers will increase when an additional 30 million people become insured. As more people acquire health insurance, they are more likely to seek medical services, have necessary medical procedures and make regular doctors visits, creating a cascading effect in the healthcare staffing industry. With Registered Nurses already in short supply, the Federal Government is issuing additional education incentives and more Federal loans as a way to entice more students towards the medical field and hopefully ease the strain on the nursing industry.