As Deadlines for Health Care Reform Approach, AAFP Works to Ensure FPs, Patients Are Informed

September 04, 2013 02:45 pm James Arvantes

The AAFP has launched a Web page to help family physicians and their patients better understand and navigate the health insurance marketplaces and other key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

[Affordable Care Act concept circular diagram in pink and blue ]

The page provides an overview of the health care reform legislation and links to various materials that explain key provisions of the law, which was designed to enhance health care access. The page and its related links serve as an informational resource about the Affordable Care Act for family physicians and their patients.

"These materials give family physicians and their patients the information they need to learn about important new health insurance provisions," said Amber Melaney, M.P.H., the AAFP's state government relations strategist. "Family physicians can use this Web page as a resource to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and to refer their patients to if they have questions."

Open enrollment for the health insurance marketplaces, formerly known as exchanges, starts on Oct. 1, but research shows that most consumers do not know much about the marketplaces, which are described as a one-stop shop for consumers to research, compare and purchase comprehensive health insurance plans. Family physicians' patients may ask them for help understanding and navigating the changing health care landscape.

That is why the Web page focuses heavily on the marketplaces, linking to documents( that spell out how the marketplaces will work, who qualifies for the insurance options offered as part of the marketplaces, what plans are required to cover and how patients can apply for coverage. Other topics on the Web page address changes patients can expect in 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act and how health care reform will bolster primary care(

In addition to the new Web page for family physicians, the AAFP has developed a series of educational handouts on that are designed to inform family physicians and their patients about specific provisions of the law. One of the handouts addresses health insurance marketplaces(; another explains what health care reform( means for children, adults, the elderly and the sick; and a third handout( looks at the relationship between the health care reform law and Medicare.

Each of the handouts contains links to other materials that further explain provisions of the health care reform law, describing coverage options and protections. For example, starting in 2014, health insurance plans cannot deny coverage or charge more because of a pre-existing health condition, and health insurance plans will no longer be able to charge women more than men for the same services.

The AAFP will continue to provide Affordable Care Act resources to members throughout 2013. Plans include a presentation for medical school faculty, students and residents and a webinar for physician business owners, according to Melaney.