Can the health care system handle the demands of 30 million-plus new customers?
It's estimated that more than half of the newly insured will be under age 35, and about 80 percent will be in good to excellent health. They will not be using services for the first time, but they may decide to change providers. More than one-third will enroll in Medicaid, and it's thought they will use fewer services than those with private insurance.
Still, in the short run, the capacity of the system to meet demand will be strained, particularly in areas that currently have high rates of uninsurance.
Consumers shouldn't be surprised to find a system in flux as we look for new ways to deliver health care. Patients might see a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor for routine problems; they might confer with their doctor over secure Web sites or their cellphones. We're likely to see health care delivered in ways we've never seen before.
This op-ed was part of a NYTimes.com post.
Elizabeth A. McGlynn: Associate director of health programs, RAND Corporation.
This commentary originally appeared on NYTimes.com on March 30, 2010. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.