Bernadine Healy, M.D.
Change is coming to medical care in America, and it may be a done deal by summer's end. From Capitol Hill to the White House, enthusiasm is running high for President Obama's plan to morph with lightning speed the current patchwork, private-public blend of healthcare into something closer to a single-payer, government-run system. Steadfastly promising to bring high-quality, affordable care to everyone, the president assures people that they will keep their own doctor and insurance if they want, see a return of some $2,500 to their pocketbook, and become decidedly healthier. But restructuring will inevitably call for sacrifice on the part of most individuals. Today, Sen. Ted Kennedy introduced a 651-page bill, the first of several bills that will be issued in a flourish in the next few weeks. Since full details of what might make it into the final legislation won't be known until later this month at the earliest, barely a month is left for any kind of public discussion before a July vote. Enough common threads have emerged, however, to indicate that people should start looking beyond the headlines now for an idea of how the new system will affect them personally. For starters, here are seven ways that your healthcare experience is apt to change:
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