Reform for healthier and more secure lives

Ayesha Akbar

As the second anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approaches this month, the legislative committees on public health and insurance recently held a joint hearing to allow citizens a chance to testify about the act. These testimonies, along with evaluations of the act’s impact, will allow legislators to decide whether these recent health initiatives will stay in place or be slated for change in future legislative sessions.


Political rhetoric today is dominated by polarization. Listening to it, one might start to imagine that this health care reform caters only to the interests of liberals. However, many don’t take into account what the Affordable Care Act means for students at the University.


With our sights set on entering fulfilling professions, we attend the University with the hopes that our future careers will allow us to lead stable and rewarding lives. Too soon, however, we will find ourselves strutting around as ambitious young adults in a struggling job market and realize that, in these times, stability is less than guaranteed.


As the value of a bachelor’s degree continues to decline, graduate study is beginning to look more appealing to many students. More often, students are taking a few years after their undergraduate career to return home and work to save up for the bank-breaking machine that graduate school can become. Indeed, many of us are already holding down near full-time hours to avoid sinking into a quagmire of undergraduate debt. And as tuition rises, competition increases and the economy recovers slowly, many of us are starting to realize that it might be a while before we are offered well-paying jobs with reliable health care benefits.


With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we will be guaranteed coverage on our parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26, a privilege that will allow us some peace of mind in regard to medical coverage. This law, already in place, is helping more than 1 million young adults across the country. Additionally, this summer brings the exciting change that requires all colleges offering health insurance plans to provide full birth control coverage with no co-pay, co-insurance or deductible.


The ACA makes great strides in providing for women’s health, ensuring that the resources we need are available when we need them. Of course women’s health means more than providing birth control—despite the frequent negative media fixation on that aspect. The ACA provides access to pap smears, HPV vaccinations for women under 27, screening and counseling for STIs (including HIV) and at least one female preventative care visit per year without co-pay or co-insurance. In these ways, the ACA helps young women care for their health.


To educate ourselves and other students on the benefits of health care reform, we must start paying more attention to national groups such as Young Invincibles, an organization that provides simple, easily accessible information on what health reform entails. Even homegrown initiatives such as the Texas Well and Healthy campaign are potent forces in the fight for affordable health care and are valuable resources that we can no longer afford to ignore. As students with jobs, classes and numerous other commitments, we cannot afford to worry about expensive medical care on top of the rising cost of education and the tough job market.


Health care reform is about more than political maneuvering, and it’s time we step away from political rhetoric and understand reform initiatives like the Affordable Care Act for what they are: legislation that can help us lead healthier and more secure lives.


Akbar is a psychology, Arabic and humanities sophomore.