* Affordable Care Act
* August 1, 2012, By: Elizabeth SanFilippo
* Affordable Care ActFrom Examiner.com "Under Health Law, 'No-Cost' Birth Control Starts Today" -Julie Rovner of NPR, August 1, 2012
* Women's Health
* August 1
President Obama's Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, but it wasn't until today, August 1, that women on new insurance plans gained access to new health benefits, many of them related to preventative services, without having to owe a co-pay.
Of the new health insurance offerings, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said:
"Women will be able to have access to essential preventive services that will provide early detection and screening for those situations where they're most at risk, and also provide opportunities to care and services that they need as wives and mothers."
The new services offered include breastfeeding supplies and counseling, gestational diabetes screenings, STD screenings, contraceptives, prenatal tests, pap smears, as well as annual wellness exams. Prior to August 1, many insurance companies were charging women extremely high co-payments, which can incredibly discourage women from seeking services that prevent diseases and health issues later in life.
One foundation, Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need, is touting the enormous benefits to so many women.
"These are services that women need across the lifespan and that many women postpone or just don't get because of the high cost. Women of all ages and races stand to benefit tremendously from this provision of the health care law," said Raising Women's Voices co-founder Lois Uttley.
Unfortunately this huge movement forward for women's rights and women's health still isn't completely set in stone. Republicans continue to vote against the new health care law and vow to get rid of all funding for these provisions in the 2013 budget.
Not only that, but insurance plans that existed prior to the health care reform law may have "grandfathered" status and are not be required to offer these free services until the plan is renewed. VP of health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Gary Claxton, explained: "You may or may not have them offered to you, and if they're offered, you may have to pay cost sharing. In other words, you may have to pay a portion of the costs."
Even so, August 1, 2012 is a huge step forward for women's health. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 47 million women in the U.S. stand to benefit from these new policies.
© Elizabeth SanFilippo 2012