Payers must accept health reform as 'law of the land'


Now that the Election Day dust has settled and the health reform law has survived a nasty political battle, I would like to remind my dear readers of some wise comments made two years ago (to the day, in fact):

"If insurers can recognize [health reform] as the new reality, they likely can also see that spending time on hoping, or even taking actual steps to change the law, is an exercise in futility--and denial."

The author of those sage words? Yours truly. Since I'm not usually one to gloat, I'd instead like to take this moment to remind payers about the value of acceptance and the importance of regrouping and refocusing on current reality.

"With an Obama victory one has to come to terms that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land," Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Stateline. "Maybe it's time to start living in reality rather than fantasy."

My sentiments exactly.

But what does that mean in practical terms? It means payers need to prioritize reform-related requirements and start making the long-postponed decisions about which health insurance exchange they will participate in and whether they will bid on Medicaid contracts to help states cover the new flood of members.

It also means making decisions with financial implications, including whether payers will ramp up advertising focused on the individual market and rebrand their image to better position themselves for the new business opportunity. Oh, and then there's the matter of getting to know all these new members, most of whom haven't received healthcare on a regular basis.

These are challenging choices facing payers in the coming years as the health reform law gets implemented. As I said before, "acceptance doesn't necessarily equate to pleasure." Payers don't have to like all the changes coming their way and the extra work required to meet reform requirements. But by accepting the reality of the situation and moving forward--instead of politicking and playing the blame game--all businesses have the chance to expand and prosper in the new health insurance market.

I know many payers have grown in the last two years since the reform law has passed, recognizing the wide benefits the law has on their companies. I, too, have grown, learning that acceptance doesn't operate alone; it's a stepping stone toward achieving happiness. I know now that acceptance means less resistance to life forces, which in turn means fewer adversarial relationships.

When people or organizations work together, say, for example, payers and providers, healthcare can be simplified, costs can drop and quality can increase. In other words, mutual goals can be achieved.

These are lofty goals, indeed. The first step to such a grand vision is simple--accept the reality that the health reform law is here to stay and start, or in some cases, continue to work toward compliance. Your business will thank you. - Dina (@HealthPayer)