Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Health care reform and PR challenges

It does not seem as though there will be much progress on the healthcare reform before the fall. I am not going to enter into the “Washington insider” part of the story, how the Administration has worked with moderate Democrats and with Republicans, and what needs to happen for that reform bill to pass – I don’t know much about this. The thing that has struck me so far is how little we in the public know about what this reform will consist of in detail. I have heard about a government-managed insurance option that would compete with the private insurance solutions. I have heard about incentives that would hopefully encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle, in exchange for lower premiums – things here and there but really not a clear or thorough picture of what the new system would entail.

The Obama Administration that has done very few communication faux-pas so far has surprised me here in its failure to explain simply to the general public what they have in mind. Maybe I missed it but I went on the New York Times and Boston Globe web sites and did not find any simple and accessible articles presenting the reform in detail.

That lack of clarity makes it easier for opponents of the reform to take any one bit of it that they don’t like and make a huge deal out of it. Case in point is the argument that supposedly with the new system the public won’t be able to make decisions regarding their care any longer and everything will be decided by the government. I understand that this could not be farther from the truth – but the lack of details and transparency about the Obama Administration’s intentions create a fertile ground for that kind of questionable debates to happen. No wonder that the public opinion is only moderately in favor of a major healthcare system overhaul…

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