(HealthDay News) — The impact of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on physicians’ primary care practices will vary geographically, according to an article published Dec. 25 in Medical Economics.

Jeffrey Bendix, a senior editor at Medical Economics and author of the article, notes that changes will be most felt in those practices that contract with plans found in the health care insurance exchanges or that take Medicaid patients and are located in the 26 states or District of Columbia that have expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Among the changes likely to be experienced are not only an influx of new patients, but a change in the makeup of the expanded patient population, Bendix writes. With many of the patients not having had access to regular care before, they are more likely to have untreated chronic conditions. According to the article, Reid Blackwelder, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, says that some physicians, though, are concerned that these new patients may present compliance challenges, so, physicians accepting these patients are encouraged to educate them. To make practices more efficient to deal with the influx of patients, an online patient portal can free up time needed to share lab results or handle prescription refill requests. Additionally, when booking appointments, staff should ask patients about any changes in their insurance status to get out in front of insurance-related issues.

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“The challenge of caring for more [patients] (as a result of the ACA) will require us as physicians to make sure we do good education, because one of the most important aspects of adherence to treatment plans is making sure you’re clear about what you’re doing, and why, so you can explain it to the patient,” said Blackwelder, according to the Medical Economics article.

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