The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Despite the huge amount of media and legislative drama surrounding health care reform, most Penn students — and most Americans — know little about the specifics of the bill that the president signed this week.

But experts and political leaders stress that students should learn how the bill can affect them — especially because they will deal with finding their own health insurance in the near future.

“A lot of people at Penn don’t worry about health insurance and don’t feel they’re at risk,” Penn Democrats President and College sophomore Emma Ellman-Golan said. But graduating seniors, especially those without a job next year, will have to think about how to make sure they’re covered.

Under the new plan, young people are covered until age 26, she said.

Nursing sophomore Alexandra Tejan said she follows health care news when she can, but “probably should be a lot more educated about it than I am because I’m in the Nursing School.”

Still, she added that she was “surprised” by how little her teachers and classmates discuss the legislation.

“I wish I knew more about it, but honestly … if even students who are educated like me are confused by the bill, I’m sure the rest of America is equally confused,” Tejan said.

St. Joseph’s University History professor and political analyst Randall Miller said public knowledge of the bill tends to be much more geared toward politics than policy.

“Most people seem to not know much at all about the specifics of [the bill], though some people still have very strong ideas about it,” he said.

Some students seem to be turned off by the way Congress has politicized health care.

“I really think that this bill has become much more political than health care-related” Tejan said. “Politics kind of overwhelms me, and I think the bill is so complicated.”

College junior Jake Wischnia agreed.

“When the bill was passed, it was basically Democrats versus Republicans, and in my opinion that’s not how the government is supposed to work,” he said. “This bill was probably just passed for the sake of being passed — I don’t think it will change anything.”

Miller said the complex nature of reforming health care makes learning more about it a “daunting” task.

Still, Fox Leadership Program Director and Political Science professor John DiIulio wrote in an e-mail that he thinks the American public is “slowly but surely learning more about the specifics.”

DiIulio and other experts encouraged people to learn more about the bill, now that a final version has been passed.

While they don’t need to learn every detail of health care reform, Americans should “understand the key features of the act that was just passed,” said Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.