Yesterday was Day 1 of college for the freshman at University of South Florida. Just who were they greeted by? Doctors from all corners of the country who took time away from their practices to travel to their campus in order to talk to them about the Affordable Care Act. College students want to know about the ACA and how it will help their and their families' lives.
I was surprised by the number of students who came by to chat with me and I think one aspect that really captured their attention was that a doctor from Boston cared enough about their health care to fly down to their campus to chat with them. I opened with my story and had amazing conversations follow with the students. Most of them had heard about the Affordable Care Act but didn't really know what it was about. I spoke to a group of three friends who were eager to learn more and asked me to give them the longer, more detailed version of explaining the Affordable Care Act because "the other day my friend told me she didn't like the Affordable Care Act and I didn't really understand why. I'd love to be able to talk to her about it."
They listened intently as I highlighted all the ways the ACA was improving patients' lives and expanding insurance coverage. They asked questions and wanted to know specifically how it was helping young adults. She thanked me as they left and told me now she could tell her friend more about the facts behind the ACA that she had heard from a doctor. One junior I spoke to told me about her mother who had been diagnosed with both breast cancer and diabetes and had reached her lifetime cap and was kicked off her health insurance coverage. She couldn't get covered by other plans because of her pre-existing condition. Since the ACA, she is now covered on her husband's plan because she can no longer be denied because of her prior illness.
It was incredibly gratifying to be able to engage the students about healthcare reform and educate them about the facts behind the ACA. All of them were just interested to know more. It was very apparent to me there was a void of knowledge that we as physicians could fill on the front lines of health care delivery. We garnered 100 more declarations that afternoon and the school's paper came to cover the work we were doing. All but 2 students I spoke to signed the declaration because it was easy to support an education campaign without ulterior motives; I was not asking for their vote or their money. I was there, and I am on this bus tour, purely to stand up for what I see as progress in creating a better healthcare system for our patients and communities.