The recently launched Health Insurance Marketplace, the provision in the Affordable Care Act that enables patients to compare and select insurance plans and benefits that meet their needs, will likely become very popular during the next few months.

As the term implies, there is promise that there will be new options for healthcare. The concept of individualized choice is brilliant. It encourages a sense of autonomy and personal commitment that is significantly lacking in the U.S. healthcare system.

Too often, patients rely on the provider to fix them. It is not uncommon to hear patients use phrases like, “I’ll do whatever you tell me to do,” or “You’re the doctor, you know best.” These statements signify a lack of willingness to be active participants in their healthcare.

I am often frustrated when I ask a patient to recall the medications they are taking, and they are unaware of the names, dosages or even the purpose of their medications. This is a dangerous way to practice medicine. 

The provider should not have complete control of a patient’s health or health outcomes. This concept will lead to failed treatment plans and poor health outcomes. Patient participation is key. If a healthcare provider is unable or unwilling to elicit patient participation they are failing to provide quality care.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, it will begin to change the way both patients and providers view health.

Leigh Montejo, MSN, FNP-BC, is a National Public Health Service Corp scholar completing her service commitment as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Tampa Family Health Centers Inc. in Florida. Her areas of interest include adolescent health, health promotion and improving access to healthcare in underserved populations.