Obamacare Increased Collections, Decreased Visit Volume

Coverage expansions resulting from the Affordable Care Act have not had a negative financial effect on medical practices. Instead, primary care physicians reported increased collections and decreased visit volume, according to athenahealth

Higher reimbursement rates as a result of the Affordable Care Act have led to increased collections for primary care physicians (PCPs) in both Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states in 2014, according to a report from athenahealth and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

For PCPs in non-expansion states, collections increased 3.3% and in expansion states collections increased 3%. However, both groups saw a decrease in visit volume, although it was to a smaller degree in expansion states (0.3%) compared to non-expansion states (1.3%).

The insurance segments that drove collection increases differed in expansion and non-expansion states. In states that haven't expanded Medicaid, more than half (57%) of the increase in collections was attributed to commercially insured patients between the ages of 41 and 64 years. In both sets of states, Medicare was a primary driver of increased collections: the program accounted for 41.4% of the increase in non-expansion states and 39.4% in expansion states.

"Overall, our data suggests that the coverage expansion provisions of the ACA have not had a negative financial effect on medical practices," the authors of the report concluded.