The unknown 1 year old
It’s a year old. A chunk of people still want to flat out kill it. Another hunk want to gussy it up a bit and let it become an adult. And who knows how many millions haven’t a clue that it exists, let alone whether it’s a savior or a villain.
Happy first birthday, health care reform. Every day it gets more rooted into the nation’s health-care culture. Some blame it for health plans hiking their premiums; same with Big Pharma boosting costs of proprietary meds before they get deeply discounted when they turn generic.
I’ve made a couple of public presentations on the law — the synopsis of what people’s faces say and the tone of their questions falls into two categories: !!!!! and ?????
I recently helped Community Medical Centers communications team put together an online poll accessible to the system’s roughly 6,000 employees and 1,100 physicians. The poll offered four options, in reflecting on the law that took effect in March 2010: “It’s had no impact on me”; “I really don’t know much about it”; “I like what I see so far”; and, “I’m confused: the feds are expanding care while the state is cutting?”
Last time I checked, nearly 700 people had responded with the top two responses, by sizable margins, being confusion about mixed signals at the state and federal levels, and ignorance about the law. Ranking last: I like what I see so far.
So I asked Community’s human resources team what they were hearing from employees. Two areas of interest: Adding coverage for children up to age 26 and explaining that over-the-counter medicines are no longer reimbursable through health-care spending accounts.
Put my presentations, the poll and the HR anecdotes together and you get — a sense of widespread ignorance.
To be fair, the law’s most dramatic impacts don’t play out until 2014. Irrespective of what Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court do in the months and years ahead, forward-thinking hospitals like Community are not merely watching and waiting. We are implementing changes and preparing for the most sweeping health overhaul in 35 years.
And, clearly, helping educate everyone will be a huge part of our mission.
To learn more about the various components of the law, these sites might be helpful: