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HUMAN RESOURCES

6 Ways Obama's Affordable Care Act is Good for Your Business

One health care entrepreneur espouses the legislation's virtues, even if it means more government involvement in business.
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I'm sure you're watching closely as the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is being rolled out.  It's critical to you if you provide health care to your employees; health care is a cost that always goes up and can hurt your bottom line. 

While the new law isn't perfect, I think it's a good thing.  I lead a health care services firm, so I can look at this issue not only as an employer, but as an insider to an industry going through massive change.   

Here's why I think you should embrace President Obama's health care changes, too:

1. Health care is a right.

I believe health care should be available to all Americans so I'm glad the government is mandating everyone get coverage.  While not quite universal coverage, the new law will require people to have coverage or pay a penalty.  Much of the country's health care costs today are incurred because people are uneducated about their own health care, or flood the emergency room for non-emergency care.  Even if the Affordable Care Act means more involvement from the government in daily affairs, nothing is more important than health care.

2. The system is broken.

The health care system the U.S. has today is not sustainable.  Health care providers are paid based on volume, not value.  The more tests they order and the more procedures they do, the more money they make.  The new laws are moving to a value-based reimbursement model that will pay providers based on cost, quality, and service.  Hospitals and doctors will suffer significant financial penalties if their patients are not "satisfied" with their care.  It's about time!

3. Incentives are being realigned.

With the formation of new health care entities called Accountable Care Organizations, I'm seeing new businesses sprouting up throughout the U.S. that are willing to be "at risk" for their reimbursement from the government.  They'll be paid not just to be efficient in their care, but by achieving quality metrics as well.  As a consumer, you'll benefit from a more coordinated approach to care, and an industry that will hopefully move from being reactive to proactive in serving its customers.

4. The industry is starting to focus on customers.

In health care, I believe there has been little regard for the experience of customers: the patients.  If they achieve a particular clinical result, many providers behave as if their job is done.  I'd like to say that the industry is becoming more patient-focused because it is the right thing to do, but truthfully, it's the economics that are driving it.  I'll take it anyway.  The good news is that you'll start to see your provider caring for you and your family in a different and better way from the time you need health care to long after you are discharged from the hospital.

5. Personal responsibility is essential.

As a leader of a company that has employed thousands of people over the years, I have seen great lethargy when it comes to people taking responsibility for their own health care.  Only by constant education, prodding, and even incentives have I believe I've been able to encourage my own employees to take better care of themselves.  So I'm not encouraging a handout from the government; individuals have to take part in managing their own health.  That will serve them and their families well and eventually remove cost and waste from the system.

6. You have an obligation to employees.

As a business owner, I take great pride in knowing I have contributed to the wellness of those I work with.  I know it costs the company more every year to do it, but I consider that both an opportunity and a challenge.  If I'm going to build a culture that commits to enhancing the lives of the people I work with, helping them manage and pay for their health care is an obligation I accept.  So when the CEO of Papa John's complains that the new law will make him switch to part-time employees--so he can avoid paying for health care--I think he's irresponsible.  He says his only other option is to charge $.10 more per pizza.

I don't know about you, but I'd gladly pay more for a slice, if I knew that the pizza company paid its pie tossers well.

Last updated: Mar 6, 2013

PAUL SPIEGELMAN | Columnist | CEO of BerylHealth

Paul Spiegelman is the chief culture officer at Stericycle and founder and former CEO of BerylHealth. He also co-founded the Small Giants Community with Inc. editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. You can read more at PaulSpiegelman.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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