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    What Mohs surgeons don't know about the Affordable Care Act


    An unscientific survey of 159 Mohs dermatologic surgeons finds that many don’t fully understand the ramifications of healthcare reform spawned by the Affordable Care Act, according to a speaker who presented the findings Saturday at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

    Seventeen percent of the surgeons surveyed didn’t realize that healthcare reform forbids insurers from excluding consumers with pre-existing conditions. Only 55 percent correctly understood that consumers without insurance coverage as of 2014 will face penalties.

    And while 68 percent said healthcare reform will affect how they practice medicine, just 27 percent said their knowledge about the Affordable Care Act was good or great.

    READ: More coverage of the 2014 ASDS Annual Meeting

    “Unfortunately, there seems to be some kind of disconnect between these two numbers. We need to educate members on the contents of this bill because there is a need and want for this,” says survey organizer Brian Raphael, M.D., a chief resident in the Department of Dermatology at Emory University, who presented his findings at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. “Our patients will turn towards us during this time of change and look for guidance. We need to be prepared to answer their questions as we all maneuver through these uncharted waters and make sure we are able to protect our patients and our practices.”

    Dr. Raphael sent the survey via the Internet to members of the American Mohs College. A total of 159 physicians responded. Of those, 104 were male, 133 were Caucasian, and 119 were in private practice. 

    Raphael says that it’s important for dermatologists to realize that Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate Formula is still an issue. More than 20 percent of those surveyed either believed that health care reform had repealed the formula or didn’t know its status. In fact, the formula, tied to reimbursements of physicians, is still a hot topic in Washington D.C.

    Only 41 percent of those surveyed realized that they need to take part in the Physician Quality Reporting System this year. “It’s important to continue to educate our members so they do not face penalties for lack of reporting,” Raphael says.

    In addition, more than 23 percent of the physicians surveyed do not know what accountable care organizations are, while 21 percent plan to join one. ACOs are voluntary groups of health care providers who work together to provide care to Medicare patients. There’s controversy about whether these government-blessed groups are a good idea. Critics fear they will reduce competition and raise prices.

    “ACOs can potentially limit access to dermatologists,” Raphael says. “Even those who are not supportive of ACOs need to be aware of their existence.” 

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga is a medical writer based in San Diego, Calif.


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