Let's defy reform naysayers, fear mongers


That old adage, the only constant in life is change, is quite appropriate to the shifts occurring throughout the health insurance industry as a result of the reform law.

Change is admittedly hard for most people, even if it only marginally affects your life. But knowing what the change will look like, when it's coming and how it could directly impact you guarantees a smoother transition. As a wise friend once told me, "change doesn't equal good or bad. Change just equals change."

Unfortunately, when there's change, there's almost always naysayers, fear mongers and complainers. Many politicians still refuse to admit the reform law is being implemented and continue to focus only on the law's potential drawbacks. Still others, even those who supported the law, are slinging mud at federal officials for the botched exchange rollout.

Meanwhile, consumers are complaining to each other, on social media outlets and directly to insurance companies about the damaging effect reform changes have on their lives.

Although there's likely truth in the statements and concerns of many of these naysayers, fear mongers and complainers, I think they're ultimately missing the point. Sure, the law isn't perfect. (Has there ever been a law in the history of this country considered ideal by both sides of the aisle?) But it's the law. And we so desperately need change in healthcare.

But that hasn't stopped people from widely criticizing the law without any education on its actual provisions. If I had a quarter for every time I read a Facebook status update that says something like "My premiums are increasing. Thanks Obamacare," I would be a wealthy lady right now. Unfortunately, those posts are often accompanied by 10, 20 or even more comments, almost all of which agree with the original poster and share their own negative opinions on the law.

I can't help but read through these comments, all the while astonished at the widespread misinformation occurring on sites like Facebook. Whether we like it, social media is a large source of information for a majority of consumers, so status updates and subsequent comments really do matter when it comes to educating the public about healthcare reform.

If, say, someone who was well informed on the reform law wrote a status update on Facebook or Twitter about its potential benefits, it could quickly trickle through friend networks so thousands of people (maybe more) could read it and, at the very least, consider on their own whether they want to believe it.

And if insurers used their Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and even YouTube channels to communicate the benefits of change under healthcare reform, who knows how much information the public would literally have at their fingertips.

So I would like to propose an idea. Let's put down our fists for a minute and agree to communicate, inform and educate the public about the reform law's changes. People in positions of knowledge, in this case insurers, government officials, lawmakers and reporters, really can affect change in a positive manner.

It's time we take the lead to help consumers see that change doesn't have to be aversive. Yes, it may be challenging. But it could just be that change is different, not necessarily bad. - Dina (@HealthPayer)