Five years ago, DRG analysts gathered in a conference room and watched as healthcare reform in the United States became a reality.

Five years later, the impact of the Affordable Care Act is undeniable and far reaching:

It cemented the red state/blue state divide.

It threw together those who were often adversaries in contract negotiations---health plans, physicians and hospitals --into partnerships that focused on accountable care.

It created a whole new insurance marketplace, which is literally called that, and after a disastrous rollout made Health Insurance Exchanges part of the vernacular.

It resulted in Medicaid expansions in states that a decade earlier had gleefully cut welfare rolls.

It made consumers, especially those who had no insurance or were covered by state-funded Medicaid, pay attention to the cost of health care.

It led pharma companies and medical device makers to find new approaches to selling and marketing and to look for new markets to approach and sell to.

It led to a whole new wave of healthcare IT centered on wearable devices that monitor population health. Think of it as Fit Bit for the Ritzbits culture. Measure the impact of your 100-calorie snack packs with a tiny device that moves when you do.

In fact, according to the consulting firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers, the ACA has led to 90 new companies being created since 2010, 29 of them in telehealth.

Bottom line: The ACA was disruptive, it was innovative and it was game changing. It remains a source of controversy and derision, or of thanks and relief--depending on your point of view.

Whether it's here to stay in exactly the same form isn't known. But clearly the healthcare system has come too far to go back to the way we were.

This week, watch this space as DRG analysts take a closer look at how the ACA is changing individual stakeholders, from exchanges to health plans to Medicaid and more.
For more, join me, April Wortham Collins, Mark Cherry, and AnnJeanette Colwell as we present the webinar, U.S. Healthcare 2015: Targeted Insights on Critical Business Questions,  on March 25 at 11 am Pacific/ 2 pm Eastern.

Follow Carolyn McMeekin on Twitter @CarolynMcMeekin

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