Self-Care Challenge (Day 134): Reading the Affordable Care Act


On day 134 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored how reading the Affordable Care Act in its entirety can be an act of self-care.

The idea of an average American reading the Affordable Care Act in its entirety might seem a little outrageous. And after doing just that, I can confirm that it was. The 906-page document took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to print, and required a $36-dollar investment (in the form of 2 reams of paper and more than an entire black ink cartridge).

I decided to read the entire ACA because I feel vulnerable. Up until now, it has been easier to take the “sit back and see what happens” approach. Watching from a distance has had its benefits. You can’t worry about what you don’t know, right?

But as I continue to move forward on my self-care journey, I realize it’s irresponsible of me to not be involved somehow. I must invest in understanding (to the degree that I can) this system that I am forced to participate in, and I feel obligated to take personal responsibility for understanding how to navigate my own health resources.

But who has time to keep up with the ever-evolving and controversial topic of health care reform? The moment I get through this document, the next president will be pushing through another version to replace it. Even so, it doesn’t mean each version doesn’t have something to teach us.

In the 1990’s, as a 17-year-old high school senior, I ordered Bill Clinton’s health care reform proposal, known as the “Health Security” plan, on CD-ROM. I can still remember being mostly confused (I had zero context since I was still a covered dependent), but I was very interested – enough to scroll through the entire plan while I was simultaneously writing scholarship essays and college applications.

It wasn’t easy then, and it certainly isn’t easy now. These days, being an informed American usually just means skimming news headlines for information that answers the question: What does this mean for me and my family? There’s simply too much to consume. And those who do endeavor to investigate the finer details must pay a hefty price – in the form of time and hard-earned dollars.

While I understand that reading the ACA doesn’t mean I will necessarily understand every detail of the system, nor do I think the ACA is the sole source of information on the topic, but I do believe the added knowledge will help me make better decisions about my own health and help me understand how to engage in the ongoing discussions related to health care reform.

I’m a fast reader, but I seriously have no idea how long this is going to take. I’ve read the Farm Bill too, but that was only 357 pages. 

How do you stay informed about the evolution of health care?

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