Study in Pink: Women gain access to crucial preventive health care
The Affordable Care Act offers free preventive health services previously denied to women. It’s hard to believe anyone would claim that’s a bad idea—but leave it to Rick Perry to find a way.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which went into effect August 1st, insurance companies are now required to pay for many preventive health services for women that have long been denied. Before the ACA, insurers charged obscenely high co-pays for these vital services, or worse, forced women to pay for them entirely out of pocket.
Looking at the array of new services, it’s hard to believe that insurers could ever have pretended this care wasn’t necessary, even life-saving. Check out this list from a fact sheet published by the National Council of Jewish Women:
* Annual well-woman visit to determine necessary preventive services
* Birth control counseling and supplies, including condoms and sterilization procedures, to help women plan for healthy pregnancies
* Gestational diabetes screening to help women avoid multiple forms of diabetes and protect their children from side effects like obesity and insulin resistance
* Breastfeeding support and supplies, including consultations with lactation specialists
* Screening and counseling for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, which, besides the obvious benefits of early treatment, is proven to reduce high-risk behaviors
* Expanded testing for cervical cancer, critical since a pap test will not always detect HPV, a virus that can lead to cervical cancer
* Screening and counseling for domestic violence to help women who have endured abuse (as in, one in four American women) increase her safety with care and intervention
Any new or renewed insurance plan, including student plans, will include these benefits for free. Many women in the past have had to choose between necessary medical care or paying for necessities like food or rent. Worse, skipping preventive procedures like these often leads to greater and even more expensive health problems like long-term diabetes or cervical cancer. Providing these services for FREE protects women from the cycle of medical treatments and payments that can often bankrupt people.
Women face a double economic burden that makes the ACA all the more helpful for them. First, women earn significantly less money than men, so getting support for this crucial care is essential. Second, 85 percent of single parents are women, so women are more likely to rely on a single income, further limiting their available resources. When women are expected to sacrifice their minimal resources for their families, it’s all the more important to provide for their health.
Makes sense, right? Why would people argue against such a beneficial plan? The same reason insurance companies are reluctant to fund these services themselves: people are quick to protest that they shouldn’t have to pay their hard-earned insurance premiums and/or tax dollars for “frivolous” claims from “needy” women.
It’s like people forget that regular mammograms can save the lives of 40,000 women per year. And gestational diabetes screenings can reduce obesity in the next generation. And birth control counseling can reduce the number of both unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
You’d think that conservatives like Rick Perry would be all over a plan that helps women make smart decisions about pregnancy before it happens. However, Rick Perry was recently called out by The Hill for his contradictory views on the matter.
Perry and other conservatives oppose both the ACA and Planned Parenthood, vilifying any women’s health program that dares to mention easy-access contraceptives. As an alternative, Perry wants to create an expensive state-run medical program customizable to Texas’ (read: Perry’s) views of acceptable care. The plan would forcibly exclude Planned Parenthood from the mix, and in doing so, forfeit the right to federal aid for the program.
How would taxpayers afford a plan like this? As Perry said himself, “all clients will be eligible for Medicaid following the expansion of the Medicaid program.”
What Medicaid expansion? The ACA. Which Perry insists Texas will not participate in.
Texas has a choice: free life-saving preventive care under the ACA, or Perry’s pet program that not only restricts women’s access to important services but also carries a Texas-sized price tag. You know, just like the insurance plans we already have.
It’s said that healthy mothers make healthy families. It’s obvious to me that providing for women’s health benefits not only our families, but our society in general. Maybe Perry should realize that.