Affordable Care Act Bringing New Entrepreneurial Opportunities

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medical_billing_advocate-60Innovation in one area of the economy will cause ripple effects. Just ask those who work in industries affected by healthcare.

With the aims of the Affordable Care Act to get more and more people coverage, it means that there is more demand for some medical products and services, not to mention health insurance. Additionally, there is also a chance for innovation to make its way into the field.

Regardless of your personal feelings toward the Affordable Care Act and some of its provisions, it can’t be denied that healthcare and its accessibility are changing. When things change, and people begin grasping for solutions, others see an opportunity to make money by providing those solutions. For some, the opportunity to run a successful business is much bigger than any personal feelings toward an idea.

Entrepreneurs are finding ways to develop startups that will experience success due to the ACA. They don’t even have to have anything to do with medical care or insurance. Historically, supplemental products also have done quite well in terms of sales and profit in situations such as this.

One famous example is John Studebaker who, during the California Gold Rush of 1848-49, made a handsome fortune not by panning for gold, but by selling wheelbarrows and pick axes to miners.

The ACA is certain to spur innovation from a variety of perspectives, though technological integration seems to be a common thread.

 

Health Insurance Availability

The increase in the number of people possessing health insurance has created a separate market for those seeking health insurance information. While most people in the past got their insurance through their employers (and didn’t have much choice), there is now a large number of people who get to shop through the healthcare exchanges and choose from a wide variety of health insurance plans from various providers.

This can be overwhelming for some people, so Stride Health developed an app to provide recommendations for people and families looking to buy health insurance.

strideteam

Stride Health team members: Matt Butner, Noah Lang, Dave DiGioia, and Saad Mir

 

 

According to an article in the New York Times, the app can predict what a household’s actual healthcare cost would be for a calendar year. While users submit some of the information, it also takes advantage of Healthdata.gov, a government site that contains health data.

Right now the app is available in California, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois – whose residents account for 40 percent of the nation’s total population.

Noah Lang, Stride Health’s CEO, was quoted as saying that his app gives those looking for insurance more information than they would find on healthcare exchange sites, like personalized recommendations and cost predictions. Because the ACA gives individuals more bargaining power, the app made by the San Francisco startup is allowing customers to use that power.

The business, according to the New York Times article, gets its money by acting as a broker of sorts for the insurers, getting paid commissions on sales of recommended policies.

 

Why Innovation is Thriving

medical_billing_advocate-48Aside from the sheer number of new people taking part in the healthcare industry, there is also a generational shift toward new ways of doing business. And according to Tech Crunch, those new ways are badly needed in a field that has not found a way to connect with the millennial generation.

Millennials, the article says, have fewer privacy concerns than older Americans and, therefore, want to see healthcare use more technology. The story states that there is a massive divide between what is expected from the millennials and what the healthcare field is offering when it comes to technology.

It is indeed a large divide. According to Tech Crunch, the healthcare sector generates about $2.1 trillion a year and there are 17 million Americans who work in the industry in some form. Tack on 450,000 people who work in the healthcare insurance industry and it’s even bigger – especially when adding in their $850 billion in revenues.

 

Changes in How Care is Delivered

The Affordable Care Act is giving practitioners and doctors new ways to do business, and new ideas are coming to the forefront. According to Tech Crunch, new primary care physician groups are a result of ACA legislation. It cites the example of Village Family Practice in the Houston area, which is an independent primary care group that wants to provide the best possible care at the lowest possible cost. Their goal, according to the article, is to provide customer-centric services. They want the customer to feel good about the experience so that they have a solid rapport for providing services.

The article goes on to say that the ACA provides obesity counseling and annual wellness visits. Village Family Practice provides these services as well as diabetes education at an affordable price.

 

Niche Industries are Also Springing Up

Business ideas abound all over the world. But the key question is whether or not those business ideas can make money.

medical_billing_advocate-110Redbrick Health is a company that took a concept that is hardly new or novel, but because of the ACA, it is now a very profitable endeavor. Redbrick is a health engagement and behavior change company.

The Affordable Care Act permits large employers to offer rewards to their workers for participating in things like wellness programs, meeting health standards and taking part in informational sessions. These employers can contract this work to companies like Redbrick, who can handle all of these items for that employer.

Companies like outsourcing this type of work to companies like Redbrick because it helps to keep their workforce happy and healthy without spending a lot of the company’s time coming up with programs and sessions. Employees like it because they can save up to 50 percent of their healthcare costs by taking part in the wellness programs.

According to Tech Crunch, Redbrick combines financial accountability, clinical insight, behavior design, social and game mechanics plus data analytics that employees can use either electronically or live.

 

More Room for Competition

Starting businesses with new concepts is always the buzz, and there are many other established industries that will see increased workload due to the Affordable Care Act. This will enable existing businesses to grow and perhaps will help new ones to come into the marketplace and spur competition.

Fox Business reports that six fields are likely to see growth due to the ACA. Growth invites more competition, efficiency and innovation.

medical_billing_advocate-111First, there will need to be more lawyers to learn the laws related to the ACA and fight through lawsuits that could arise from consumers, insurance companies, and even the government.

Second, there will need to be more management consultants to help the large insurers and companies that provide medical products.

Third, more insurance agents will likely be needed. A number of those agents could find it beneficial to go into business for themselves as well.

The fourth field is customer service representatives. More people getting insurance and actual healthcare are going to have more questions. Off-site call centers are certain to see a growth in popularity due to the ACA.

Fifth is a job specific to the ACA – “Navigators” – which pays almost $30 an hour. Navigators help people with their ACA paperwork face-to-face and help them to get enrolled.

Lastly, there will need to be more IT professionals. Those opening tech help businesses are very likely to get more business due to the ACA, as electronic records are now the norm and paper records are becoming a thing of the past.

Filed under: US Healthcare, Technology, Resources, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act

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