August 8, 2012 by Gina
One week ago today, on August 1, 2012, an important part of the Affordable Care Act became effective. Do you know what it is? Is it important to you or others you know? Did you miss it? Last week, the Affordable Care Act made access to healthcare for women easier and covers many preventive services that previously were often not covered on healthcare plans.
The law now requires new, non-grandfathered private health plans to offer eight additional screenings and tests for adolescent and adult women at no extra charge. These include:
- Well-woman visits.
- Gestational diabetes screenings that help protect women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
- Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
- FDA-approved contraceptive products.
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
- Sexually transmitted infections counseling.
- HIV screening and counseling.
Women and young women face different healthcare needs then men and it’s often surprising to realize that many healthcare plans did not cover or fully cover these services for women. Prevention is always more cost-effective and more advantageous than treatment. These services that must now be covered on healthcare plans will help prevent illness and disease.
Despite this new law affecting women’s healthcare, many groups have opposed this initiative. Why? The opposition primarily comes from anti-abortion and religious organizations that do not agree that contraception should be covered under healthcare reform. They claim it forces employers and insurance companies to cover services they may not agree with and politicizes women’s health. The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act as legal and the women’s healthcare portion is only a small part of this healthcare reform bill. The Huffington Post has numerous articles on both sides fo this debate.
I personally believe that giving women access to preventive, affordable and necessary healthcare is a step in the right direction. Services that cover well-women visits, support for breastfeeding, contraception coverage and all the other services covered in this new law are important women’s health concerns. While I understand while some may feel contraception shouldn’t be covered, I believe that access to conception is necessary to women’s health. Yes, it prevents pregnancies but that is the point. I’d rather prevent unwanted pregnancies and have access to family planning, particularly for young women who may not have the means or ability to obtain them otherwise. It just makes sense to me that all of these services be covered. This is a small portion of the new Affordable Care Act, but for women – mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, friends – it is an important one.