How exactly does the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) implementation affect construction? The reality is that no one knows with certainty. 

A lot has been written and speculated about this legislation’s impact not only on the healthcare construction market but also on construction markets in general. The easy answer is that only time will tell. 

But the reality is that healthcare systems have been under pressure to deliver healthcare services as economically as possible for many years, and this law doesn’t necessarily change that focus.  

Some healthcare companies may have put capital projects on hold until the dust settles; however, most are either moving forward or contemplating new projects based on pent-up demands or efforts to get ahead of the competition. Reaching out and either capturing new service areas or increasing services within an existing market continues to drive decisions about capital projects.  

Renovation of existing older facilities will still need to be compared to the efficiencies of new development from a cost basis as well as an efficiency of staff use. The age-old question of whether you buy a new car or give an old car a new paint job applies to healthcare facilities. 

Whether healthcare systems move forward on projects and capital expenses may be influenced more by competition and what these companies can afford than to the provisions of the ACA.

Other areas of construction have definitely been impacted, as concerns mount about the cost of providing healthcare to employees. Companies may be inclined to put off any capital expense that isn’t absolutely necessary until they can determine how much healthcare will cost in the post-ACA era. This hesitancy will likely be more of a road block to the construction business in general.

The same factors that affect expansion and growth in the healthcare industry also apply to any sector of business that may be contemplating capital projects. The reality is that any rebound of the economy, although positive in general, doesn’t necessarily translate directly into an increase in the nonresidential construction business. 

Though the provisions of the ACA won’t affect construction in the healthcare sector as much as they will a variety of other variables, the question remains whether reform will significantly impact the construction industry in general. One thing is certain: There won’t be clear answers to that question any time soon.