I went to my hospital today to have my eyes dilated as part of the vision checkup. After looking at my health insurance card and driver's license, the receptionist said, "As part of the health care reform, we have to ask you for your race."
"Why do you need to know that?" I asked in the most mild, polite tone that I could, since it was not the poor woman's fault.
"You're free to decline to answer," she said, and added that it used to be really hard for her to ask this question.
I said that I was, quite obviously Asian, but apparently that was not precise enough for the requirements of the new health reform act. It was necessary for some reason to classify me as not just "Asian" but "Chinese."
I have little reason to doubt the receptionist's statement that she had been instructed to collect this information. I am curious as to what reason the government would have to make health insurers ask such a question . . . .