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Public Weighs in on Health Care Reform in Central Florida


December 6th, 2012 | WMFE- Health care reform is a big, complex process, and for some Central Florida residents it's an uncomfortable change. People agree the system needs fixing- but they don't agree on how it should happen.

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The Affordable Care Act represents a big change for patients, doctors and insurers using the US health care system. Reactions to it range from outright rejection to ardent support. 

To help understand how people react to such a large change, 90.7 News asked Valencia College psychology professor Judi Addelston.

“Typically we respond to change as a source of threat, especially something that’s as big as this," says Addelston. 

"When our brain perceives threat we marshal our defenses to protect ourselves.”

Addelston says we are constantly looking for balance.

To help comprehend the big changes underway in health care 90.7 News broke it down into five areas: physicians, people and public perception, patients, policy and politics.

We also created an online poll so listeners could rank those factors according to importance and share their opinions. Here are some (anonymous) submissions:

“The system is broken…my family, like many others, is spending 20 percent of our income on health care. This is absolutely outrageous."

"We need less government involvement, more competition between insurance companies between states to drive down prices."

"Healthcare reform is a good idea at heart but is terrible for physicians and especially physicians wishing to enter primary care.”

The responses were wide ranging, but the rankings formed a pattern: most listeners said patients were most important followed by physicians, policy, people and public perception, with politics last overall.

Another question 90.7 wanted to answer was whether lawmakers, doctors and policy experts would rank the five 'P's differently. They didn’t: patients were still the priority, politics the least important.

Comments submitted to WMFE show people agree the system needs reform, even if they don’t agree on how to go about it.

Ken Peach, the executive director of the Health Council of East Central Florida, a non profit advisory group, explains:

“A lot of consumers we talk to, you really see two things: one is where the affordable care act is fully embraced, it’s the best thing ever," says Peach.

At the other end of the spectrum, says Peach, are people who think the act is a form of government intrusion.

Peach says he worries about the cost of administering the affordable care act, and he thinks some people will also choose to pay a fine rather than get the mandatory coverage.

Another question 90.7 had was whether people might change their mind about the affordable care act after the November election.

At an Ann Romney rally in winter park in late October Barbara Nelen she said she was worried about the cost of Obamacare.

She says she still has concerns about the president’s promises.

“Health insurance hasn’t got any cheaper. He said it was going to get cheaper but it’s gone up."

Asked if she would consider paying a penalty rather than enrolling in health insurance, Nelen says "Absolutely."

It's not that she doesn't want health insurance, says Nelen, she can't afford it, and hasn't been able to since the economy took a nose dive and her business began to suffer three years ago.

Nelen hasn’t hasn’t changed her opinion about the law.

Then there’s Gloria Madaus, who 90.7 spoke to at a Michelle Obama rally on the eve of the election. Madaus now says although the new law isn’t perfect, it’s a good start, especially for the low income and elderly like herself, and it’s one reason she supported the president.  

“I believe if we’d elected Romney everybody would have been on the same page: let’s cut these programs, let them fade away," says Madaus. 

Judi Addelston has this advice for people worried about the new law:

“I would urge them to talk to people who know what it’s about, maybe when healthcare has changed in the past, we can learn from history and see it hasn’t been that horrible.”

Addelston says people have to experience something first hand to understand it, and perhaps lose their fear of it.

 

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