On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Change Healthcare President Doug Ghertner took some time to talk to Nashville Post Managing Editor William Williams. Nashville-based Change Healthcare provides consumers personalized cost and savings information regarding the purchase of health care products.
Your thoughts about the ruling in general?
It certainly accelerates the move toward greater consumer involvement in health care purchasing decisions. It’s good for consumers and it’s consistent with our core business value, which is to assist consumers with the right information at the right time to make the best decisions for their health and their families’ health.
Were you surprised at the decision?
If I had to handicap it, I thought they might have struck down the individual mandate, in which case they would have made a number of other changes to the law. That was what I was waiting for: What will be the other pieces if they strike down the mandate?
A lot of what Change Healthcare is doing is changing consumer behavior and making consumers aware of the variability in health care costs and the fact they can do something about those costs. 1. Has progress been made and 2. Will the mandate accelerate that?
What you’re going to see is the launch of more health insurance exchanges. You’ll have millions of consumers in the market shopping for insurance. We feel like we can be a valuable resource in that environment. Change Healthcare helps people navigate the process. We do know consumers are more likely to engage in their health care and make the best decisions when they have relevant information that is easily understood and simple to use. To make it user friendly is important. The act lends itself well to that.
What does it mean for the city’s health care industry? Shares of some publicly traded Nashville-based health care companies soared this morning.
Especially for big facility-based hospital companies, this is likely a positive for them as it will reduce the amount of uncompensated care they handle. People tend to use the emergency room as a “just-in-time provider of care” because they don’t have insurance or the ability to take advantage of preventative care. In theory, you might see a reduction in the number of visits to emergency rooms. And when they do come to the ER, they are certainly more likely to have insurance. Shares of local health care companies’ stock are up because the theory is an influx in insured patients will have a positive impact on the companies' bad debt expense.
Have you talked to your industry peers about the ruling this morning?
No, I have not spent time canvassing the market. But I would imagine if I talked to my “facilities buddies,” this is a positive for them.