The key to making Obamacare work: Talkative early-adopters

Bruce Springsteen performs in New York.
Bruce Springsteen performs in New York.

Good things don’t always catch on overnight—just look at Bruce Springsteen.

“Bruce Springsteen wouldn’t have been around today, because he had a couple of albums that didn’t sell too well,” Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said on Thursday. That wouldn’t fly in our instant-gratification world, he said. It was actually Springsteen’s third album, “Born to Run,” that catapulted him into stardom.

Like the Boss, some ideas take a long time to catch on, said Dr. Atul Gawande, a cancer surgeon and author, on Morning Joe Thursday.

“Take hand-washing. When it was discovered in the middle 19th-century, you could cut deaths in surgery 50% if you had people use antiseptics, but it took a generation to catch on,” Gawande explained.

But there is a way to speed change up—and it’s not complicated.

“It’s people talking to people. They are the force of changing norms and standards,” he said. “This is why campaigns that still go door to door. Why companies still have sales force.”

Obamacare passed years ago, but unlike a tax cut that kicks in next year, there was no instant gratification. So the bills opponents are working hard to stop the early adopters from seeing it, because they know that that’s the key to killing the legislation.

“But the flip side of it is the Democrats see that if you can get the early adopters, 10-15% of people to get benefit from it, you get the chance for it to really take hold,” Gawande said. “If you get a foothold in 10-11 states where you make it work and get people talking to people and people saying, I got something out of this, then you start to see the dynamic change. But that’s the battle until then.”

Are you making things happen? Join the conversation. Tweet us your brilliant ideas to #MoJoe, Morning Joe’s web-only series of videos.