An Obama Failure? 2 Reasons Why the Affordable Care Act May Not Fully Deliver
The Affordable Care Act (ACA,) better known as Obamacare, may not succeed in slaying both dragons it promised to: the rising cost of healthcare and lack of access to insurance. In a report discussing the ACA’s performance in controlling healthcare costs, Bloomberg News is sunnier about the policy’s success with providing insurance to people than it does about creating lower prices. For example, since the advent of the ACA, 16.4 million people have gained healthcare insurance coverage. Unfortunately, early studies of how well the ACA is doing in reducing medical costs aren’t as eye-catching.
We all know how the ACA tackles the problem of providing health insurance access to the masses. It did not create a single-payer system, a la European Union or Canada, where the government is the sole provider and all anyone needs to do is sign up. The ACA kept the private, for-profit, insurance system in place and instead made it affordable for the layperson by promising to pay for part, or all, of the insurance costs. In other words, it created an insurance subsidy. The policy’s second tool it is the public mandate, the part of the law that forces everyone to sign up for health insurance or pay a fine.
Related Story: Is Obamacare a ticking time bomb for some businesses?
What is not as well-known are the ACA tools to control costs. There are two approaches. The first is accountable care organizations (ACOs), described in Bloomberg as, “arrangements that encourage doctors and hospitals to collaborate to reduce costs while improving the overall health of their patients. Providers can get a share of the money they save.” The second is known as bundled payments. According to Bloomberg, “[they] attempt to limit the total price Medicare will pay for an ‘episode of care’ such as a hip replacement. Bundled payments encourage doctors to avoid complications from surgery that can extend hospital stays, for example, because they won’t get paid more for extra treatment”
Data is still small and preliminary, but the first batches are not promising. Bloomberg reports that, “Since 2012, health-care providers have formed 220 ACOs that attempt to save money for Medicare. Fifty-eight of those have demonstrated savings, according to the latest federal data. The total savings of $695 million works out to less than $200 saved for each person on Medicare covered by an ACO since 2012. Medicare pays, on average, more than $10,000 per patient per year.”
Related Story: The Real Cost of Health Care
The government began using bundled-payments at the beginning of 2013. Its limited results are even more uninspiring than those of the ACOs. Bloomberg reports: “The first analysis of Medicare’s bundled payment program, published last month, was based on just 15 providers. The review found that ‘the small sample sizes and early experience preclude drawing conclusions,’ though the preliminary results suggest that the model may affect the way doctors and hospitals deliver care. For example, patients spent less time in nursing homes after a hospital stay and more time with home health aides, a lower-cost way to care for convalescents.”
The jury is still out on the Affordable Care Act. It’s a success in getting people insured. It may need additional tinkering, and time, before it can rein in health care costs.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.