School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, USA
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), access to insurance and coverage of preventive care services has been expanded. By removing the barrier of shared costs for preventive care, it is expected that an increase in utilization of preventive care services will reduce the cost of chronic diseases. Early detection and treatment is anticipated to be less costly than treatment at full onset of chronic conditions. One concern of early detection of disease is the cost to treat. In reality, the confluence of early detection may result in greater overall expenditures. Even with improved access to preventive care benefits, cost-sharing of other health services remains a major component of insurance plans. In order to treat identified conditions or diseases, cost-sharing comes into play. With the greater adoption of cost-sharing insurance plans, expenditures on the part of enrollee are anticipated to rise. Once the healthcare recipients realize the implication of early identification and resultant treatment costs, enrollment in preventive care may decline. Healthcare legislation and regulation should consider the full spectrum of care and the microeconomic costs associated with preventive treatment. Although the system at large may not realize the immediate impact, behavioral shifts on the part of healthcare consumers may alter healthcare. Rather than the current status quo of treating presenting conditions, preventive treatment is largely anticipated to require more resources and may impact the consumer’s financial capacity. This report will explore how these two concepts are co-dependent, and highlight the need for continued reform.
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