Everywhere I go, I am besieged by “ordinary” (read: non-insurance) folks asking about what changes the new health care law will bring. I am tempted to answer them with a retelling of Donald Rumsfeld’s “The Unknown.”

“There are known knowns; those are things we know we know. There are known unknowns; those are things we know we don’t know. And there are the unknown unknowns; those are things we don’t know that we don’t know.” As on-point as that may be, if you answer the question that way someone is likely to take a poke at you.

The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) has suggested language that its members might use. “We are not politicians or media folks so we do not work in sound bites. We are benefit professionals and we know you expect us to provide accurate answers that you can rely on. This is illustrated by the President’s miscue on coverage being immediately available for children under 19 regardless of their health situation. While insurers have agreed to provide coverage as he described it, the bill did not require the companies to do so. Such are the results when you work in a hurry and refuse to listen to people whose business is health insurance. Implementation of the current bill will be a very fluid situation for a number of weeks in some cases and, in others, months or years.”

NAHU concludes their suggested language by asking for patience as this process unfolds. The American public doesn’t have a lot of patience left and poll numbers indicate growing dissatisfaction with the letter and the spirit of the law as well as the overselling that took place in the final weeks leading up to the vote. Maybe this is less a case of understanding than a case of buyers’ remorse. In that event, the best answer is: Legislate in haste, repent in leisure.

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