In the last few years, the healthcare environment in the United States has changed beyond all recognition. Obamacare irreversibly changed the way Americans perceive, and utilize, medical care. While the first year of the new law brought with it a 1% income tax for those who failed to become insured, the second year increased that fine 2.5% of your household income.

Changes in the healthcare environment have been nearly constant ever since. Many doctors find themselves overrun with patients, while other patients find themselves severely limited when it comes to their choice of providers. Many people who were insured before Obamacare took effect found themselves without coverage or unable to afford new coverage under this law.

In 2016, the Affordable Care Act saw adjusted enrollment periods, increased tax credits, Medicaid expansions, as well as many changes as to who would qualify for insurance. As we are now halfway through 2016, many people are beginning to wonder what big changes may be in store for 2017. Included here are a few of the most significant changes coming to Obamacare in 2017.

Greater Access to Information

One of the biggest problems with health insurance today is the difficulty with finding a doctor you like and who is also in your preferred network. A doctor that is in-network will offer you monetary savings, but if you are dissatisfied with your care you may not visit often enough. A huge complaint with Obamacare in the past few years has been the inability to access information regarding preferred providers within your insurance budget.

In 2017, the Affordable Care Act hopes to make healthcare information more accessible and understandable to citizens. Insurance companies will now be required to give their insured clients a minimum of 30 days notice if a provider is being removed from their network, as well as allow them to continue a current treatment for up to 90 days following.

Fewer Surprise Bills

Getting an unexpected medical bill in the mail is one of the most stressful experiences for modern Americans. By clearing up the patient’s understanding of which doctors are in- or out-of-network, patients can choose accordingly. This can help prevent surprise bills from arriving for a visit that was out-of-network.

In addition to the clarification about providers, insured patients will now be able to apply their ancillary care out-of-pocket costs to their yearly deductible. This can work wonders for the patient, because once their yearly out-of-pocket costs are met, they will have all other services, by in-network providers, covered for the remainder of the year.

Fortunately, insurers are protected within this new law as well. Provided the insurer gives the patient a minimum of 48 hours proper notice that their out-of-network care and bills will not be covered, the insurer does not have to allow them to apply the cost to their deductible.

Standardized Costs Out-Of-Pocket

Shopping for healthcare online can be incredibly difficult, especially as you attempt to compare and contrast different plans with a variety of premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and copays. In 2017, the system is working to perfect its pricing, so the out-of-pocket costs can be standardized and more easily compared.

This means, that in 2017, insurers will be able to voluntarily offer plans with standardized sets of coverage expenses, as well as standard deductibles and copayments. Patients will then be able to approach their healthcare with a good understanding of their financial expense for the year and avoid all surprise bills.

Conclusion
Dealing with health insurance has never been a simple process, but it is becoming easier in recent years. With improved systems in the health insurance program, patients across the country should gain better access to the healthcare they need.