Health care reform is a step forward


et us get this out of the way:  I find the Affordable Care Act, upheld in near-entirety this past June by the U.S. Supreme Court, as a vital step forward in expanding insurance coverage and minimizing certain abuses within the health industry.

You may agree or disagree to varying extents with my assessment.

Now, momentarily disregard the public debate over the individual mandate, state exchanges, Medicare and many other issues. It seems that many of my peers seem to think that the healthcare law hardly affects them.  After all, most hail from middle to higher-income strata.  Many  people already have health insurance plans through their parents.  Many are healthy and not in need of any major treatment.  The 2010 law really is not all that important, or is it?

Independent youths will be required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty, which may be a pro or a con depending on personal opinion.  However, starting in 2014, young people will be allowed to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until they turn 26, and the government will help pay for insurance for individuals who truly have trouble affording it.  Under the law, screening for alcohol abuse, depression, domestic violence and tobacco use are legally required to be covered by health insurance plans. Type 2 diabetes, HIV, breast cancer and cervical cancer, as well as immunization vaccines and contraception access, are also included under this new provision.

Also, gender cannot be used as a basis to charge one individual over another for the same type of coverage.  Oh yeah, and did I mention that insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” such as pregnancy or cancer?

This law seems pretty good for young adults. Now, we can get back to arguing over the rest of the bill.

Gaurav Dhiman is a first-year medical student.