There's a busy year ahead for health care reform as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act, continues to reshape America's health care system. It became law in 2010.
"The broad consensus is that we need to move away from an outdated fee-for-service system that rewards volume and toward a system where doctors and hospitals are rewarded for improving quality, value and health outcomes," says Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP, an industry trade group.
While this year's five major reforms lay the groundwork for a more efficient and sustainable health care system, "from the patient perspective, a lot of this is behind the scenes," says Dr. Glen Stream, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
One change some consumers will welcome: a rebate check from those health insurers that failed to spend a sufficient portion of premiums directly on patient care last year.
A giant wrecking ball still hangs over this construction site, however: the Supreme Court decision on a 26-state constitutional challenge to the health reform. The justices will take up the issue in late March and are expected to rule by late June.
Here's what lies ahead for health care reform in 2012.