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4 Ways the Affordable Care Act Is Improving the Quality of Health Care in America

The Affordable Care Act has been so crucial to improving the quality of health care for Americans. Here's four ways this landmark law is improving health care for you.

American medicine is the best in the world. But waste and inefficiencies in the system have traditionally put your health and your pocketbook at risk. Patients who stay in the hospital longer than they need to could be exposed to infection. Vital information can get lost in the transition from primary care doctors to specialists. And when patients are given different prescriptions from multiple doctors, dangerous drug interactions can occur.

That’s why the Affordable Care Act has been so crucial to tackling these and other challenges and increasing the quality of health care for Americans. Here’s how this landmark law is improving health care for you:

  • You are healthier after a hospital stay. Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, health care quality is improving quickly. For example, 50,000 fewer people died as a result of preventable errors and infections in hospitals from 2010 to 2013. And Medicare is creating “star ratings” for health plans and many types of health care providers – improving performance and information for patients.
  • You get more time with your doctor when you need it. New care models – called “primary care medical homes,” or “accountable care organizations” – provide support for health care when patients need it. For example, the Comprehensive Primary Care Model, serving more than 2.5 million patients in eight states, lets patients contact their doctor’s office 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And their doctor or nurse on the phone can see the patient’s electronic record. That kind of contact can help avoid costly and dangerous trips to the emergency room and prevent mild conditions from becoming serious.  
  • You’re paying less. Slow growth in premiums since 2010, thanks in part to this law, means that the average premium for a family with job-based coverage is $1,800 lower than if premium growth matched its pace from 2000 to 2010. If we can sustain just one-third of the difference between the record-tying low premium growth seen in 2014 and the last decade, those savings will grow by another $2,100 by 2020. That’s money that stays in workers’ pockets or their paychecks.  
  • Your taxpayer dollars are going toward better investments. Already, projected federal spending on health care has been slashed by $200 billion in 2020, thanks largely to slower health care cost growth. That means lower deficits, more room for investment in education, roads, bridges, or lower taxes.

But there’s more work to do to make sure every American receives the highest-quality health care they can get, as quickly as they need it. That’s why President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell are launching the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network – a coalition of consumer groups, hospitals, doctors, employers, insurance companies, and other stakeholders who will work together to help our health care system deliver on that goal by:

  • Rewarding doctors who diagnose patients correctly the first time
  • Cutting red tape to increase communication between specialists, primary care doctors, and patients 
  • Working with doctors, nurses, and hospitals to ensure the best quality follow-up care after long hospital stays

Learn more about the Action Network here.