In the past two weeks I have visited two college campuses---one in Brooklyn and one in Wisconsin.' Large numbers of students turned out to hear about the new reform law and wanted to know what it meant for them.' The questions were thoughtful, some incisive and reflected a desire to understand aspects of the law that had not been explained.' Some were concerned not only for themselves but wondered how the law would affect the larger community as well.' And they were interested in issues other than how they could stay on their parents' insurance policy.
One student wanted to know about his Medicare taxes, which he said he didn't mind paying, but wanted to know whether he would even get Medicare someday. A pre-med student asked whether reform would affect his income when he became a professional.' Someone asked about malpractice and how it contributes to the nation's total medical bill.' He was surprised to learn that it didn't contribute all that much.' One young lady told me she and her husband wanted to start a family, but they were concerned about the $8,000 deductible on her husband's insurance policy from his employer.' How could she possibly pay for maternity and newborn care?
A doctor attending the lecture told me she was 'appalled' by the new law. Why did people have to wait four years for coverage?' In the meantime, she would continue treating some patients for free.' Lucas Kuehn, who is also headed for med school, wanted to know what happens if the reform law doesn't turn out as planned.' Will that help or hurt the chances for a national health insurance plan in the future, he asked?' He said he could hear some critics say 'well, it didn't work out, let's go back to the status quo.'
If students have a lot questions, it's a good bet that others do too.' In this space over the coming months, we will begin to give some and explore how Americans pay for their health care now and when many of the provisions of the law kick in in 2014.' ' We will focus on insurance, what it costs, how it's sold, what it covers, what it does not cover, and how the new rules and regulations crafted by state and federal agencies will affect us.' We will talk about Medicare and Medicaid with an eye toward helping consumers and patients navigate these complicated systems.' And we will examine the costs of medical care and how that determines what we all pay.
This space is a forum, and we want to hear from you.' In a sense, you are our eyes and ears in the marketplace.' As a reporter, I have found that my best tips come from people in the real world not from press releases.' I look forward to some lively discussions.