Health Care Reform and You: 5 Ways to Get Involved

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Confused by the debate about health care reform? You’re not the only one.

“Based on what they see on the news, I think it’s impossible for people to understand what’s happening,” says Alwyn Cassil, director of public affairs at the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C. “health care reform better and make your opinion count. This is a historic moment in the U.S. What happens in the coming months will have a huge and lasting impact on how the health care system works — for us and our families.

Health Care Reform: What’s the Problem?

Many policy experts — regardless of their politics — say that U.S. health care is in crisis. About 46 million Americans have side-by-side comparisons of the bills from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Remember that nothing is concrete yet,” she says. That’s an important point: Any final bill that goes to a vote and to the president for signature will likely look quite different from the proposals circulating early in the legislative process.

Some good resources for understanding the basics of health reform include:

Don’t forget to consider other ways health insurance may affect your life. Some people stay in jobs they don’t like because they’re worried about losing health insurance, Duritz says. “We also hear about owners who want to expand, but don’t because they’re worried they couldn’t afford coverage for the extra employees.” These sorts of anxieties are directly relevant to health care reform.

5. Speak Out

The U.S. is on the brink of making one of the biggest changes to health policy since the introduction of Medicare in 1965. This is a historic moment. And it’s one in which you, as a citizen, have some real power.

What can you do?

  • Write or call your elected officials. Let them know what you think about health care reform. Talk about your own experiences. Many politicians are looking to voters for guidance. Here are links for finding and contacting:
  • Join an advocacy organization. No matter where you come down on health care reform, there are advocacy organizations you can assist, and in doing so make your point of view more widely known.
  • Talk to your family, friends, and co-workers. Once you understand the issues at stake in health care reform, make your case to the people around you. A lot of people are confused by the debate and anxious about reform. They could use your help in understanding what it might mean for them.

Remember, we all have a say in how health care works in this country. This is a moment when your family, friends, neighbors, and elected officials are listening. So make your opinion about health care reform known. It matters.