By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com
As the health industry undertakes a full transition to meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to prepare for a shift in market dynamics, PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) today published its annual list of the Top Health Industry Issues for 2013. According to PwC US, the pace is certain to quicken in 2013 with the effects of technology, consumerism, budgetary pressures and the ACA converging on a sector that represents nearly one-fifth of the economy.
HRI has identified the following issues as the top focus for the health industry in the year ahead:
1. States on the frontlines of Affordable Care Act implementation
Over the next year, state officials must decide how to run insurance exchanges, whether to expand Medicaid coverage, and what type of insurance market regulation is needed. The biggest challenge states may face in 2013 will be information technology. Designing infrastructure to create a single, seamless entry point to the exchange will require some states to undergo a major overhaul of existing Medicaid eligibility systems.
2. Consumer revolution in health coverage
Consumers’ rising voice on how they spend their healthcare dollars, coupled with state insurance exchanges, is prompting the health industry to compete on attributes similar to the retail industry: convenience, price and transparency. HRI found signs that consumers already are warming up to new ways of purchasing insurance: nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of consumers surveyed said they are likely to buy health insurance from non-traditional sources such as a retail store, up from 18 percent in 2011.
“Health organizations can hear the thundering footsteps of 30 million newly insured Americans on the horizon. Yet they are feeling the full force and impact of federal spending cuts and pressure from states, employers and consumers to operate more like a consumer-focused, retail industry,” said Kelly Barnes, PwC’s U.S. Health Industries Leader.