The Effects of Health Care Over-Regulation
By Joseph Franz
As much as those of us in the patient care field support the triple aim of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—better care for populations, better health for individuals, and lower per-capita costs—one aspect of the new health care system that many of us find frustrating is the sheer number of regulations (of which there are well over 10,000 pages). Of course, government regulation of healthcare is necessary, but because health care regulations are enforced by all levels of government and private organizations, it’s terribly inefficient. Consequently, many of the ACA’s regulations are, ironically, undermining the goals that the ACA hopes to achieve.
Government regulations are increasingly attempting to standardize care. However, a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment alienates populations. The government’s standardization of care leaves the decision of a treatment’s effectiveness in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the experts—the physicians. Therefore, health plans are not necessarily tailored to patients’ needs, which can affect the health of individuals and populations.
Over-regulation also compromises patient care because physicians are forced to spend more time complying with regulations (i.e., paperwork, credentialing, pre-authorizations, and quality measure data), which leaves them less time to interact with patients. Patient/physician interaction is key to improved healthcare, but much to the chagrin of both doctors and patients, the new regulations are relying more on technology and less on humanity. For example, one ACA requirement is that all patients have an electronic health record (EHR); however, in their current state, EHRs can’t exchange health information electronically. Consequently, physicians still rely on faxed medical documents from outside providers and have found instances in which the data entered about the patients is either extraneous or inaccurate.
EHRs have also been found to be more expensive than expected, which brings us to another effect of government over-regulation: the high cost. Complying with all the regulations costs the US approximately $7 billion. Again, this is due to the all the paperwork physicians, government, and private companies have to do. These costs ultimately trickle down to the patients.
At Encinitas Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, we believe it’s important to educate our patients about the pros and cons of the changes in health care reform. We also do our best to take advantage of the benefits for our patients and mitigate the costs by staying focused on providing them with optimum care. For questions about skilled nursing and rehabilitation care of you or a loved one, please visit us at
or call us at (760) 753-6423.