How the Recent ACA Rulings Impact HIT

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The Supreme Court BuildingIn June 2015, the United States Supreme Court voted to uphold the tax-credit subsidies that are a key component of the government’s Affordable Care Act. Take a closer look at the ruling and what it means for the growing health informatics sector.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling

The King vs. Burwell case marked the second time the tax-credit subsidies have been challenged since their introduction as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The subsidies were launched to make health care more affordable for Americans, although the law’s ability to find Americans who do not obtain health insurance has been called into question.

Good News for Big Data Collection

As anyone studying health informatics knows, many health breakthroughs come from using technology to analyze big data. To obtain big data about health care, you need a significant number of people using the healthcare system.

According to the results of a Gallup poll released in November 2014, uninsured Americans are the most likely segment of the population to delay medical treatment because of high costs. Nearly three in five Americans without insurance said they’ve delayed medical treatment. The current system compels people to get the insurance that makes them more likely to receive medical treatment. This makes more patient data available to health informatics professionals.

Ruling Will Instill Investor Confidence

According to RTI International, one of the great benefits of healthcare informatics is a reduction in health care costs. However, the research and development needed before healthcare informatics firms can release their cost-efficient products and services takes a serious financial toll.

Health informatics firms with the financial clout of Google X can shoulder this financial burden, but smaller digital health start-ups must look to investors for the capital they need. According to data from Rock Health, venture capitalists invested more than $4.1 billion into digital health start-ups last year. That’s more than the total sum invested in the three years prior.

Investor confidence could have taken a hit if the Supreme Court decision had scrapped the tax-credit subsidies. Investors know that health informatics firm rely on big data for their success. When speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, Rock Health’s strategy manager Teresa Wang called the law in question “one of the main drivers in digital health adoption and investment.”

Growth of Healthcare Informatics Seems Certain

Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, Aureus Medical Group reports that there has been a greater focus on using technology to modernize the nation’s healthcare system. This renewed interest in the link between technology and health care has seen health informatics become one of the fastest growing industry sectors.

Healthcare informatics is one of the key drivers of healthcare reform. If fewer Americans used the healthcare industry, there wouldn’t be the same impetus to strive for innovation and reform. The protection the Affordable Care Act provides ensures more Americans will continue to use the healthcare system, and the healthcare informatics sector will continue to grow in response.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision about the Affordable Care Act has significant implications for the growth and continued success of health informatics in the United States.



Image via Flickr by Mark Fischer