Here are some Health Care Terms you may see on this website, or in the news:
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The ACA aims to increase the quality, affordability, and rate of health insurance coverage for Americans, and reduce the costs of health care for individuals and the government. Click here to watch a video which walks through the basic changes in the way Americans will get health coverage and what it will cost starting in 2014, when major parts of the ACA, also known as “Obamacare,” go into effect. (Please note, clicking on the video link above will take you to a website, not under NCHC’s control).
- Click here for a Commonly Used Health Care Terms and Acronyms handbook from Vermont Health Care Resources/Snelling Center for Government
- Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) – Spread across 50 states and all U.S. territories, more than 1,150 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) provide vital primary care to more than 17 million Americans with limited financial resources. Directed by boards with majority consumer membership, FQHCs focus on meeting the basic health care needs of their individual communities. They maintain an open-door policy, providing treatment regardless of an individual’s income or insurance coverage. FQHCs serve community residents from all walks of life, including people enrolled in employer-based insurances, Medicare/Medicaid, or public health insurances. We also serve people with limited resources who struggle to access care through traditional channels, including the homeless, residents of public housing, migrant farm workers and others with emergent and chronic health care needs.
- FQHCs provide substantial benefits to their communities:
- They serve 20% of low-income, uninsured people.
- 70% of their patients live in poverty.
- They provide comprehensive care, including physical, dental, and mental health care.
- They save the national health care system between $9.9 billion and $17.6 billion a year by helping patients avoid emergency rooms and making better use of preventive services.
- National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) – A national organization founded in 1979 composed of 14 directors representing consumers, purchasers and providers of managed health care. It accredits quality assurance programs in managed health care organizations and develops and coordinates programs for assessing the quality of care and service in the managed care industry.
- Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) – The PCMH, or “medical home” model is an approach to providing comprehensive primary care for children, youth and adults that facilitates partnerships between patients, their physicians, and when appropriate, their families. NCQA ’s Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a program for improving primary care. In a set of standards that describe clear and specific criteria, the program gives practices information about organizing care around patients, working in teams and coordinating and tracking care over time.
The medical home encompasses five functions and attributes:
- Comprehensive CareThe primary care medical home is accountable for meeting the large majority of each patient’s physical and mental health care needs, including prevention and wellness, acute care, and chronic care. Providing comprehensive care requires a team of care providers. This team might include physicians, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, educators, and care coordinators. Although some medical home practices may bring together large and diverse teams of care providers to meet the needs of their patients, many others, including smaller practices, will build virtual teams linking themselves and their patients to providers and services in their communities.
- Patient-CenteredThe primary care medical home provides primary health care that is relationship-based with an orientation toward the whole person. Partnering with patients and their families requires understanding and respecting each patient’s unique needs, culture, values, and preferences. The medical home practice actively supports patients in learning to manage and organize their own care at the level the patient chooses. Recognizing that patients and families are core members of the care team, medical home practices ensure that they are fully informed partners in establishing care plans.
- Coordinated CareThe primary care medical home coordinates care across all elements of the broader health care system, including specialty care, hospitals, home health care, and community services and supports. Such coordination is particularly critical during transitions between sites of care, such as when patients are being discharged from the hospital. Medical home practices also excel at building clear and open communication among patients and families, the medical home, and members of the broader care team.
- Accessible ServicesThe primary care medical home delivers accessible services with shorter waiting times for urgent needs, enhanced in-person hours, around-the-clock telephone or electronic access to a member of the care team, and alternative methods of communication such as email and telephone care. The medical home practice is responsive to patients’ preferences regarding access.
- Quality and SafetyThe primary care medical home demonstrates a commitment to quality and quality improvement by ongoing engagement in activities such as using evidence-based medicine and clinical decision-support tools to guide shared decision making with patients and families, engaging in performance measurement and improvement, measuring and responding to patient experiences and patient satisfaction, and practicing population health management. Sharing robust quality and safety data and improvement activities publicly is also an important marker of a system-level commitment to quality.