The Affordable Care Act: a primer for plastic surgeons

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014 Nov;134(5):830e-837e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000000635.


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. It represents the most extensive overhaul of the country's health care system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The Affordable Care Act has two goals. The first goal is to reduce the uninsured population in the United States. Key elements to covering the uninsured include the following: (1) expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals and (2) establishing health insurance marketplaces for moderate-income individuals with subsidies and tax cuts in an effort to make health insurance more affordable. The second goal of the Affordable Care Act is to address concerns about quality and the overall cost of U.S. health care. It is imperative that plastic surgeons thoroughly understand the impact that the Affordable Care Act will undoubtedly have on the country, on our patients, and on our clinical practices. Plastic surgery will see many changes in the future. This will include an overall increase in the number of insured patients, a push toward joining accountable care organizations, and a shift in payment systems to bundled reimbursement for episodes of care. In this article, the authors describe how these changes are likely to occur and what plastic surgeons must do to be part of the change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Care Reform / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / economics
  • Insurance Coverage / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Male
  • Medicaid / economics
  • Medicare / economics
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Surgery, Plastic / economics*
  • United States