Obamacare can't be changed overnight, say healthcare cos

Trump has called it 'absolute disaster'

Obamacare can't be changed overnight, say healthcare cos

While US President-elect Donald Trump is eager to repeal Obamacare, Indian healthcare companies, with massive presence in the US, believe that Obamacare cannot be changed overnight with 21 million lives at stake.

Trump has called Obamacare an “absolute disaster.” The Affordable Care Act, approved in 2010, without any Republican votes, provides tax credits to help people buy private insurance. It also allowed states to expand Medicaid eligibility, with the federal government paying most of the cost for new beneficiaries.

Indian firms believe that healthcare in the US is very polarised. Trump’s desire to repeal Obamacare within 100 days may take longer — at least a couple of years.

Chocko Valliappa, CEO of Vee Technologies, a healthcare revenue cycle management services company, said, “Trump is looking at repelling Obamacare, but does not look to have a replacement as yet. Some of the key considerations that will be in debates are guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions and providing coverage to the kids till they are 26 years of age. Repealing a law that will throw 21 million Americans without insurance coverage will not be easy. I feel Obamacare cannot be changed overnight.”

No direct threat

“Healthcare outsourcing for India will be limited to the extent of companies working exclusively on Obamacare. The Indian IT and BPO industry thrives in filling up the skill gap that exists within the US, and therefore, not a direct threat. Trump has spoken about Medicare Drug negotiations,  wanting to drastically cut the prices. Indian Pharma companies could gain by exporting generic drugs that might attract Trump,” Valliappa added.

Telediagnostics firm Teleradiology Solutions (TRS) Co-founder Dr Sunita Maheshwari said, “Outsourcing of healthcare work from the US to Indian companies depends upon what is going to happen with Obamacare.”

“There have been many changes in the healthcare scenario in the US over the years. The US senate tried to pass a Data Protection Act that would prevent patient data from leaving the US. Such a ban would have affected not just us, but all outsourced work such as medical transcription, billing, coding, and telemedicine. Luckily, better sense prevailed and they realised that this would actually raise healthcare costs in the US. We survived that bullet,” Dr Sunita said.

“With Obamacare, many of the uninsured became insured. In one way, it was wonderful for the poorer Americans. Over 21 million people got benefitted. Trump is threatening to repeal Obamacare. If he does so, healthcare costs are likely to go up and that is good for teleradiology organisations like ours. With Obamacare, we thought that we would be hit and we survived. So we are hoping that we will also survive Trump,” Dr Sunita added.

Increased outsourcing

In fact, according to the CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, Dr Jonathan Linkous, who spoke at the recent Telemedicon in Bengaluru, “If America wants to reduce its health care costs, it should increase some of its outsourcing.”

 “The size of the American healthcare Industry alone is equivalent to the entire GDP of France, at $3 trillion. Healthcare reform has always evinced passionate response. Obamacare’s primary focus was to provide insurance cover for the 10% of the population uninsured,” Valliappa added.

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