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“If anyone at these hospitals tells you they know what’s going to happen when Obamacare goes into effect, they’re lying. Nobody has it figured out.” That’s what a hospital administrator confided to me last spring, when I met with representatives from local health networks to discuss our annual Top Doctors list—how to get more doctors involved, the ins and outs of our Castle Connolly survey system, and so on. I appreciated his candor, though the statement was a little depressing; even the hospitals were unsure what the effect of the Affordable Care Act (and its lower reimbursement rates, to name just one change) would be.
Soon it became apparent that metro hospitals were taking preventative measures anyway. St. Vincent Health announced 865 job cuts across the state. And as this issue went to press, IU Health employees were finding out whether they would be part of the 900 layoffs that system has planned. At least with the ACA, I guess, those newly unemployed and possibly uninsured professionals have options. Whatever the ACA’s long-term impact on hospitals, though, one thing seems clear for patients: Healthcare prices aren’t going to magically lower anytime soon. I’ve long rolled my eyes at the constant news reports about the price of gas. Yes, I remember when fuel cost 99 cents a gallon. Yes, the same amount now sets you back almost $3 more. It’s frustrating, but there’s not much I can do about it. I now have the same throw-up-my-hands attitude toward health bills. My husband recently underwent physical therapy for a minor leg problem. An introductory visit, plus three follow-up sessions, cost us more than $1,000 out of pocket. He probably could have used a few more rounds, but instead he now does the exercises at home, hoping that the pointers he was able to cram in continue to help his pain. It could be worse; his was a tiny issue.
Thankfully, treating illnesses like pneumonia or a stroke in Indiana—while not cheap—still costs less than the treatments would in more than half of the other states. Further good news: There are more bright, talented MDs and DOs in the metro area than ever, as our list of more than 600 Top Doctors attests. If you’re going to pay a fortune for healthcare anyway, why not make it with one of Indy’s best?
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.
This article appeared in the November 2013 issue.
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