As of Tuesday, the historic health care bill was officially signed into law.

As a journalism student at New York University, I pride myself on knowing what’s going on in the news. Like that the bill was enacted on Tuesday. I also like to know the significance of the news. Like what the bill now means for America. And me.


The health care debate has been going on for decades, but I’m not convinced all of America’s youth shares my enthusiasm for media analysis. I’m pretty sure the health care bill is a distant blip on many young adults’ radar, although some of its key provisions impact us directly. Part of the problem may be a disinterest in the individuals themselves, but there’s something else. There’s a disconnect between what goes on at Washington—the politics, the intellectual jargon surrounding the health care issue— and the young people whose lives the bill will change.

From now on, our lives are going to be different. It would be nice to see some sort of explanatory “health care for dummies” that bridges the gap between Washington and America’s youth so we could understand exactly what’s going to change.

So why does the health care bill matter for young Americans? How are our lives going to be affected?

The Huffington Post compiled a great, straightforward slideshow of the top eighteen immediate effects of the health care bill.

Number four on the list is monumental. More young adults will be covered by health insurance. We now have until we’re 27 years old to stay on our parents’ insurance plans. That gives us more time to find jobs, go to school, and figure our lives out without worrying about health insurance.

A less significant but still relevant change was placed at number eleven: the bill imposes a ten percent tax on indoor tanning services, going into effect on or after July 1, 2010. Maybe then tan-obsessed teens will think twice before shelling out the extra cash for this cancer-inducing activity.

At number fifteen is nutrition content disclosure. Chain restaurants will be required to list calorie content of their food on both in-store and drive-through menus. Both the tanning tax and nutrition disclosure force us to think about how to treat our bodies and stay healthy, while we’re still young.

The bill also includes student loan reform  that helps make college more affordable. Access to quality education shouldn’t be for the few, but for the many.

All in all, the bill opens up many doors for America’s youth. Even if it’s hard to understand, its promise for a better future is unmistakable.

Campus Progress, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young people be heard through an online magazine as well as campus journalism organizations and various projects, provides a neat timeline on their website of the bill’s effects on young Americans.