Taking the pulse of Obamacare in the Centennial State

Phil Kalin, CEO of Colorado’s Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) has been out in the community talking about Obamacare. Colorado is a “purple” state, with lots of red and blue areas. Interestingly, he found reactions to the Affordable Care Act to be startlingly similar in the left-leaning communities as the right-leaning ones. In particular, a serious lack of understanding about the details of the law had both sides simultaneously hopeful and fearful.

There are worries about the health care system being overloaded with new patients, a mistaken belief that government would be the health insurance provider for all the new enrollees, and concerns about skyrocketing costs. It’s hardly surprising that people wouldn’t understand the details of the law. After all, it’s a complex law with a ton of nuances and there’s been a plethora of propaganda about it.

As the law rolls out we can expect people to gain a greater understanding of it as they experience it. Already at least some folks in Colorado must understand that the law enables parents to keep their kids on their health insurance until age 26 and that preventive services are fully covered. Over the next couple years they’ll learn more as they experience the health insurance exchange and gain eligibility for subsidies as individuals or small business owners.

If the experience of Massachusetts is any guide, most people will be comfortable with the new law once they are participating in it. At that point they’ll start to think practically about how they can get the most value for their health care dollar. One resource available to them is Colorado’s All Payer Claims Database (APCD), which CIVHC runs. With universal coverage in place we can also expect business leaders and politicians to work on cost containment and quality improvement in order to keep coverage costs in check and improve health.

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