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Cleveland Clinic CEO: Patients must be active participants in health care

As the Affordable Health Care Act continues to be rolled out, patients need to think about ways they insure themselves, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic said.

As the Affordable Health Care Act continues to be rolled out this year and in early 2014, patients will need to think about the ways they insure themselves so they don't have to pay a penalty and receive appropriate insurance, the CEO and president of the Cleveland Clinic said Friday during an Afternoon MoJoe web-exclusive interview.

"They're going to have to be much more active participants in their care as they become responsible both financially and taking care of themselves," Dr. Toby Cosgrove said.

Ohio's Cleveland Clinic, which Dr. Cosgrove joined as a surgeon in 1975, ranks among the top hospitals in the country. During the Denver, Colo., debate last October, President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney both agreed on the success of the clinic. The institution's model of medicine is being hailed by many as one for the future and what the Affordable Care Act means for health care.

More than 3,000 salaried doctors participate in a group practice and have one-year contracts at the clinic. There are annual professional reviews that rank the quality of the physicians, which can increase or decrease their salaries.

The surgeon-turned CEO who exchanged his scrubs for suits said the clinic recognizes that the focus of medical innovation needs to be on health care, not sickness care, which the industry concentrated on in the past. There is now better technology, doctors treat chronic diseases, and there are shortened hospital stays to put people back into society faster.

Across nine hospitals, the clinic decreased its emergency room waiting time from door-to-doctor to an average of 13 minutes. Last year, physicians at the clinic saw 1 million same-day appointments, a method unheard of in the medical industry.

"If we don't control the costs--which were going up very rapidly--we're going to lose things like education and all of the other social activities that we need to do," Dr. Cosgrove said Friday on Morning Joe. "That's why I think it's called the 'Affordable' Care Act, that's where the emphasis is."

In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 34% of Americans thought Obamacare was a good idea while 47% still believe it was a bad idea. With the Affordable Health Care Act, patients will have to shop and buy for quality insurance, might be treated by non-doctors such as physician assistants, and might participate in group visits.

"I think that people go into medicine not particularly because they think they're going to get rich," he said. "They go into medicine because they think it's something important that they want to do, and that importance is still going to be there."

Be sure to watch other web-exclusive interviews and roundtable discussions right here in the Afternoon MoJoe section of the website.

Watch Dr. Cosgrove's interview on Morning Joe: