Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Oregon State PhD Candidate’s Research Recognized by Academy Health

Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences doctoral student Ms. Aurora “Rory” VanGarde’s presented her research – “Racial/Ethnic Variation in the Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Insurance Coverage and Access Among Young Adults” – and was selected as “Best Abstract” in the Disparities and Health Equity category at AcadmeyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting last month.  The designation reflects the most outstanding research that was submitted for presentation by the organization’s call for papers.

[Photo: Ms. Aurora “Rory” VanGarde]

“It was a great experience to present at AcademyHealth,” Ms. Rory says. “And it was an honor to be selected as ‘Best Abstract,’ and one that I was not expecting. I was on a panel with professors that I cite in my research and really admire, and it was lovely to meet them in person. Having the research selected as the highest scoring abstract in my section reflected many hours of work and a lot of revisions from my co-authors. I’m grateful for all the time in mentioning and training they have given to my research.”

Among their findings, Ms. Rory, along with collaborators Dr. Carolyn Mendez-Luck and Dr. Jangho Yoon, assistant professors in the CPHHS, and Dr. Jeff Luck, associate professor in the college, found that health insurance rates increased 6.1 percent for young adults age 19 to 25 after the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was adopted. But, the percentage increase varied greatly, from seven percent for Whites to 1.2 percent for Blacks.

“This was my first time handling large data and running linear models to determine the impact of the ACA on young adults by race/ethnicity,” Ms. Rory says. “I hoped to see greater equality in young adult insurance rates by race/ethnicity, but now the we have research that points to the remaining race/ethnicity after the ACA, we can guide policy recommendations to focus on eliminating it.”

Ms. Rory says that the policy has taken great steps but that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, and that the major implication from this research demonstrates a need for health policy that is equitable and not dependent on employment or income.

Ms. Rory is currently working on her dissertation research, which is also about racial/ethnic variations with the ACA, and she is expected to graduate in Spring 2018.