The Need for Public Deliberation

In addition to understanding experts’ perspective on how to make health insurance premiums affordable, the voice of the public needs to be heard. Bringing the public together to talk about policy issues provides the opportunity for people to have a role in the decisions that affect them.

In light of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, public deliberation—the collective process of individuals talking, discussing and debating each other—is an appropriate way to bring in public views on what is affordable health insurance.

Five ingredients make for success in a public deliberation on affordability:

  1. Participants should represent a broad cross-section of the community in terms of race, gender, education, age and income.
  2. Participants should be provided with accurate, objective basic information about the issue.
  3. All participants should be able to voice their opinions and concerns. Moderators can help ensure diversity of voices.
  4. The public discussion should rely on reason rather than feelings and emotions.
  5. The deliberation should generate agreement or at least a heightened consensus on the issue.

Policy-makers will benefit from public deliberation by gaining a fuller understanding of what the public thinks about affordability of health insurance.