Human factor adds to health care challenge

by W. Winston Skinner

The Affordable Care Act brings opportunity — and questions — as Cowetans try to figure out how their medical care will work in the future.

The logistics of finding and buying a plan, and concerns about how those plans will actually function bring with them some anxiety. “We have a population that’s not quite sure how this is going to impact them,” Holly Lang observed.

Lang is director of external affairs for Piedmont, which owns the local Piedmont Newnan Hospital.

In the midst of lives that are already busy for many, people are working at “figuring out the best way to navigate” the process and sort the choices, Lang said. Comparing costs and benefits of various plans can be confusing.

Another factor in the process is that health care workers themselves are being impacted in their own lives by the implementation of Obamacare, as the ACA is often known.

“They’re managing these changes professionally, but these are changes that affect them personally, too,” Lang said. She said the Piedmont employees she has seen “are doing a tremendous job of handling this transition well.”

While layoffs of hospital employees have been reported in some parts of the country as ACA is implemented. Diana Lewis, senior director of public relations for Piedmont Healthcare, said she does not foresee that at Piedmont Newnan or other Piedmont hospitals, although where people work may change over time.

“It seems to me like it’s more a shift of staff,” Lewis said. As needs decrease in one part of the health system, “hopefully, you’re shifting them to other areas.”

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