The Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the Health Education Profession as Perceived by the Leaders of the Profession: An Exploratory Study



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The major legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is attempting to overhaul the health care system in the United States. Health educators need to understand how this health care policy will impact the profession. Forecasted with change, this study?s goal was to provide preliminary insights into the perceived impact of the Affordable Care Act and changes that could occur within the health education profession as a result of this major health care reform legislation.

Seven knowledgeable, experienced, and well-respected leaders of the health education profession participated in this qualitative research study. Semi-structured, exploratory interviews were conducted with six participants and one participant provided written responses to the interview protocol questions. After each interview, a thematic analysis was conducted on the participants? responses. Five themes emerged from the interviews: (1) a fragmented sick-care system, (2) ACA becomes law: the participants? reactions, (3) ACA becomes law: the profession?s reactions, (4) impact on the profession, and (5) health education in 2020.

The changes the Affordable Care Act is attempting to make to the health care system are no secret. There is potential for health educators to do something they have never been able to do before because of the Affordable Care Act, but action must be taken by these professionals. The positive elements of this legislation need to be protected, strengthened and verified, and further action needs to be taken to assure all critical components for creating a truly reformed health care system are incorporated into future legislation.

Future research focused on investigating the impact the Affordable Care Act has on the health education profession should be conducted on a regular basis. As more mandates within the law are enacted over time, the impact on the profession, more than likely, will shift. It is also recommended future research seek to quantify the impact the legislation has on the profession.