A bumpy ride

July 01, 2013
by Loren Bonner, DOTmed News Online Editor
I've been riding my bike into work a lot these days. It's a long commute for me, but I look forward to it on these nice, warm days. New York City has made a slow and steady climb toward being a bike friendly city. Bike lanes have been created over the years and just last month, the city rolled out its bike sharing program -oh those bright blue Citi Bikes everywhere!

But we still have a long way to go. Most people hate city bike riders - and to some extent, it's justified since many disobey traffic laws and can make life dangerous for pedestrians and motorists. At the same time, city bike lanes are often packed with delivery trucks or anxious people trying to cross the street, creating a precarious and frustrating situation for bikers (I find that's it's often safer to ride with traffic to be honest). There is a definite discord among the various commuter groups but I'm confident we'll get to a place where we can all share the road. It's just going to take time because it means we're going to have to adapt to a whole new culture.

The same can be said about the shift that is going on in health care right now. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been phased in slowly since it was signed by President Obama over three years ago. And the biggest changes are right around the corner - especially for consumers. For this group in particular, the law has so far allowed young adults to stay on their parents' plan until they turn 26, outlawed lifetime limits on what insurance will cover, reduced the cost of drugs for people on Medicare and expanded access to free preventive care. But starting this October, every state will be required to have an insurance exchange in place where individuals and small business owners can shop for affordable insurance online. Some families and individuals will be eligible for tax credits if they meet certain income thresholds, and others will be covered by Medicaid.

There's a lot of work to be done in four months to get the exchanges off the ground. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of uninsured respondents they surveyed said they've heard nothing at all about the exchanges. Other reports have pointed to delays in getting all the necessary parts in play in order for the exchanges to work properly.

In any case, everyone will be required to have health insurance starting January 1, 2014, or face paying a tax penalty.

These are just some of the changes - health care providers and other industry stakeholders are being challenged by their own set of provisions in the law. Here at DOTmed News, we'll be covering these stories aggressively. In fact, if you go to our news site, you'll see a new button called the Health Care Reform Newsroom where you can find these stories and more.

There is no getting around the changes that are happening all around us. It will be interesting to see how we adapt, if we do at all.