How will healthcare reform affect me?

July 30th, 2009 by Mimi Yin
Is this really the most imaginative way we (the electorate) can think of to get in on the debate on healthcare in Washington?
Sometimes I wonder if the questions pollsters ask actively make things worse because they reinforce the vague feelings of fear people have about change.
Are you afraid that a government plan will take away your ability to choose your own doctor?
Are you concerned healthcare reform will increase costs?
Why are we passing legislation based on people’s fears?
Isn’t the human condition all about fear of change?
If that’s what we’re going on, why would we ever pass any legislation?
This is useful for helping Washington identify what fears to address (or play up).
But it isn’t particularly useful for figuring out how to address those fears.
What’s needed is a way to connect the dots from our individual situations to the wonky plans and provisions floating around Congress.
And I don’t just mean a personal calculator to figure out “How is this plan going to change my personal healthcare experience and healthcare costs over the next year, 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, lifetime?”
To successfully connect the dots, there needs to be a way for us to engage in a conversation that builds and evolves as old issues are resolved and new issues arise. Thus far, the way this has been attempted are with story forums and town hall meetings. But as I explained here and here, there’s only so much we can glean from reading stories and watching Obama go head to head with a handful of individuals.
What’s needed is a dialogue between all the major stakeholders that is mediated by data (from all stakeholders). Data we offer up about our own particular circumstances, matched by data from insurers, data from healthcare providers (hospitals and doctors) and data from the government.
Again, we
But also how is this plan going to change healthcare for everybody. Believe it or not, we *can* be goaded into making sacrifices for the greater good, provided we can be convinced that greater good will come of our sacrifices and our sacrifices are the only thing standing in the way of greater good. In other words, everyone wants the best for society. We just don’t want to be the only ones who get screwed along the way.

NYT / CBS Poll

Is this really the most imaginative way we (the electorate) can think of to get in on the debate on healthcare in Washington?

Sometimes I wonder if the questions pollsters ask actively make things worse because they reinforce the vague feelings of fear people have about change.

Are you concerned that a government plan will take away your ability to choose your own doctor?

Are you concerned healthcare reform will increase your personal healthcare costs and up your taxes as well?

Of course I’m concerned! Who wouldn’t be?

Why are we surprised by such concerns (aka fears)? Isn’t “fear of change” intrinsic to the human condition? Who’s really going to come out and say that they’re confident that any plan is actually going to work? (It makes me wonder if these polls are really more useful for understanding who’s optimistic and who’s pessimistic than anything else.)

Still, this kind of polling is useful for helping Washington identify what fears to address (or play up). But it isn’t particularly useful for figuring out how to address those fears.

What’s needed is a way to connect the dots from our individual situations to the wonky plans and provisions floating around Congress. A way for us (individuals) to engage in a conversation with legislators that builds and evolves as old issues are resolved and new issues arise.

Thus far, attempts to connect with the electorate have primarily consisted of polls, story forums and town hall meetings. But as I explained here and here, there’s only so much we can glean from reading stories and watching Obama go head to head with a handful of individuals.

Instead, what if we could participate in a dialogue mediated by data?

Data that gives each of us a picture of what our situation is today versus what our situation will be post-reform. (Where “our situation” includes both our individual circumstances and our fate as a society. And “situation” means numbers that are specific to us, not averages that aren’t actually relevant to anyone.) Generalized reassurances from politicians aren’t enough!

Come to think of it, isn’t this the kind of basic transparency into government we should be demanding of our elected representatives?

What would we need to have such a dialogue? We, the people, need to offer up data about ourselves. But insurers, healthcare providers (hospitals, clinics, doctors) and the government would have to do the same.

We understand that “data” is too often cited as as an ambiguous cure-all. So to be more specific, we think something like our demonstration online data collection forum would’ve been a modest, but potentially more meaningful way for the “public” to reach out to legislators.

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