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PPACA's effect on disability durations discussed at DMEC meeting

PPACA's effect on disability durations discussed at DMEC meeting

ATLANTA — Could the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act drive higher employee disability durations and costs by delaying access to doctors? That was the topic of a presentation at the Disability Management Employer Coalition's 18th annual conference based on a survey of members' opinions.

The survey revealed that 41% of the respondents believe the ability to see a doctor for routine care in a timely manner will deteriorate.

The 287 DMEC members responding included 168 disability benefit managers working for large employers and 118 professionals working for insurers, third-party administrators and brokers.

“This really gets to the crux of the issue that will impact our disability and absence management programs,” Pat Purdy, vice president of core benefit solutions for Chicago-based Pacific Resources Benefits Advisors L.L.C., told those attending DMEC's annual conference, being held through Wednesday in Atlanta.

That is because 25 million to 30 million more Americans are expected to receive health care attention under the PPACA, Ms. Purdy said. Meanwhile, a shortage of doctors in the United States could be exacerbated as more people gain the ability to seek care.

That in turn could increase the amount of time it takes workers seeking medical treatment to receive attention, affecting disability durations and time away from the job.

But 21% of the survey respondents said they expect improvements in the ability to see a doctor for routine care, while 37% said they do not foresee any change.

The survey was conducted by Pacific Resources and is available at here.

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