Connie Green was on her way to her job as a housekeeper at the Copley Square Marriott where she has worked for twenty some years. She said she pays $39 a week for health insurance from the company, but was worried because Marriott had just changed insurers from Tufts to Cigna, and she wasn’t sure what that would mean. She also didn’t know what reform in the state means. I asked what she knew about it. “Not anything. I can’t say I do support it, and I can’t say I don’t.”

A fifty-nine year old man selling newspapers on a street corner wouldn’t give his name, but he knew a lot about the state’s reform law. He read the business section of the Boston Herald every day. Did he have insurance? “I can’t afford it,” he replied. Did he have to pay the penalty? “They haven’t caught up with me yet.” He did say that if things turned around, he might consider buying it. “But I am working in a dying industry. When the money comes back, then I’ll get interested.”

Between bites of Chinese barbecued pork, he talked about the law. “Good idea; bad implementation. They haven’t taken into account the cost of delivering the care or the extent of people needing the care. You can’t propose a program and not fund it.” Then he asked me a question. What did I think of the Republican drive to kill a public option? When I told him I had no opinion, he offered plenty more of his: “They already have socialism—Medicare and Medicaid. I can’t understand how people want to continue to be fleeced by insurance companies. They deny care and jack up the price. Supporting the public option doesn’t cost anybody a dime. It would force companies to compete.”

What does he do when he gets sick? “I don’t get sick. I stay healthy,” he told me. But when you do, I pressed? Last year he did have an ear infection. “I got it treated and paid the bill.”

Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.