In less than 2 years, all US citizens and legal US residents will have health insurance—except individuals who are willing to pay a penalty for not buying insurance. The United States is on the verge of joining the civilized world.1 Of course, this outcome will occur only if, among other things, the US Supreme Court does not rule that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, if US and state governments can enact the necessary policies and regulations, and if the health insurance exchanges required to implement the law will work. Whether a proponent or a critic of this law, most will agree with the undeniable fact that a new era in US medicine and US health care begins in less than 2 years.
The key question is what potential measures should be monitored to determine both anticipated and unanticipated effects of the new law on the health of the US population....
The remainder of this op-ed can be found at jama.ama-assn.org
This commentary originally appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association on January 4, 2012.