Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law

Today, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, viewing the requirement as a tax.  We’ll leave it up to the legal experts to analyze the decision, and to the political experts to tell us what it means for the election.

For hospital strategists and marketers, we try to take a broader, and more action-oriented view.  Here are three things to do or keep top of mind right now:

  1. Make it clear to your patients, families, staff, volunteers, and other supporters that this ruling enhances your organization’s ability to uphold its mission on behalf of the communities it serves.  Many of those who are uninsured today – and who are treated in hospitals regardless of ability to pay — will be covered eventually under the law.
  2. Although the Supreme Court has upheld the law, its future in the next Congress is less certain.   However, payment reforms rewarding outcomes and consumer coverage protections are underway and unlikely to be walked back.
  3. This is an opportunity to engage your constituents through town forums and social media, on a topic that will be even more on everyone’s mind. Not debating the politics, but listening to peoples’ concerns, and being proactive in responding to those concerns on blogs, Facebook, etc.

The fundamental dynamics that are reshaping the health care market have not changed: people are living longer and demanding more services, chronic diseases are on the rise, costs continue to escalate, and reimbursements continue to tighten.   Meanwhile, the pace of technology innovation is ever quickening, and the promise of personalized genetic medicine is tantalizingly close.

Health systems, hospitals, doctors and other providers will continue to seek more tightly integrated relationships to create the scale, expertise, care delivery models and mutually-beneficial incentives to successfully address the new economics of both market and government-led reforms.

Today’s decision, although impactful, won’t solve the systemic challenges facing the health care industry.  While the three branches of government try to sort it out, health care providers should stay focused on their mission and engaging with their consumers to help them through these uncertain times.

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