New Study Details Step-by-Step Process For Improving Population Health

In addition to increasing insurance coverage, the Affordable Care Act also aims to improve population health and lower healthcare costs. However, not much attention has been paid to the quality of care the newly insured are receiving.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought an initiative to encourage more Americans to obtain health coverage plans; however, researchers at the RAND Corporation believe there is more to the ACA than what healthcare stakeholders are currently focusing on.

In addition to obtaining health coverage, RAND researchers argue that the law also aims to improve population health and lower healthcare costs. Yet, not much attention has been paid to the quality of care the newly insured are receiving.

In their study, researchers found that consumers continue to struggle with low health and insurance literacy, which prohibits consumers from fully understanding parts of their plans such as covered benefits and out-of-pocket costs. The report also noted that consumer engagement in a healthcare plan can be divided into a series of steps but that little coordination among stakeholder groups exist to help consumers transition from one step to the next.

The development of their report, From Coverage to Care, was designed to educate both the consumers enrolling in healthcare insurance as a means to explain what exactly coverage entails and how best to achieve optimal care, as well as the healthcare stakeholders and providers who need to promote consumer engagement and insight changes in the system to improve access to care.

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) recognized that simply enrolling individuals in coverage was only the first step, and that achieving better health and reduced health care costs would require individuals to take an active role in their health care and regularly use primary and preventive care services,” the authors wrote.

The Coverage to Care initiative report outlined the various steps in healthcare coverage, which includes applying for coverage and selecting a plan, gaining coverage and understanding plan benefits, finding a provider and accessing care, and engaging in care over time.