“Physician, Heal Thyself – Luke 4:23”
Not knowing the originator of this phrase, I found this description on Wikipedia: “The moral of the proverb is counsel to attend to one’s own defects rather than criticizing defects in others.” It’s common for those of us in the tech industry to lament how appallingly out-of-date healthIT is. Taking the glass-is-half-full approach, one can see opportunity in that – Why It’s Good News HealthIT is So Bad.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case — convoluted decisions processes, for example — and that health systems are spending billions to prepare for the last battle. However, I’m much more interested in how we fundamentally change the equation than why we’re in our current predicament. The same tech companies that have kvetched about healthcare being behind on technology can address that defect by taking some simple actions.
According to a new poll, half of all Americans say they are “confused” about healthcare reform. And boy howdy, are they right!
Take a look at this new Kaiser Family Fund poll: http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/upload/8156-C.pdf
Scan down to Slide 9: Almost a quarter of all Americans think that ObamaCare has been already been repealed. More than a quarter aren’t sure. Barely half are paying attention enough to realize that it’s still law.
What about the idea that the reform law is wildly unpopular, and most people want it repealed? Slide 4 shows that 39% want it repealed, and 50% want it kept or expanded. But take a look at slides 7 and 8. The only major provision of the law that a majority of Americans want repealed is the individual mandate—the part that says you have to buy healthcare insurance or be fined. Even those who want the law repealed agree, except that a majority also think it’s unfair to make the wealthy pay a heftier Medicare tax.
Think about that: Even those who will tell pollsters that they want the law repealed say that, well, yes, they think it’s a good idea to give tax credits to small business to help them give health insurance to their employees. And to close the Medicare “doughnut hole.” And to subsidize low and moderate income Americans to buy health insurance. Or to provide voluntary long-term care insurance (the CLASS Act). And to tell insurance companies that they have to take all comers (“guaranteed issue”).
So 39% want health care reform repealed, but 30% want it expanded. And a majority across the spectrum want insurance companies to be forced to sign up all comers, but they don’t want to be forced to sign up if they don’t feel like it.
What are we to make of this?
1. What most Americans think about healthcare reform is somehow not exactly what you would hear on Fox News or on the red side of the House of Representatives.
2. Most Americans aren’t exactly paying attention anyway.
3. If Americans have a strong suit, it’s not arithmetic.