Let me begin by saying I think it would totally be worth the federal government’s money to hire Oprah for a commercial advertising the new health insurance mandates. I can just see her saying, “That is contraception and preventative care for YOU and YOU and YOU.” Ah, a political commercial people would pay attention to — anything with Oprah and “free” giveaways.
In fact, beginning today, an estimated 47 million women will benefit from the changes set forth in the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). While “free” contraceptive is being highlighted, most insurance players are now required to offer a number of women’s preventive health services at no upfront cost (NPR)**. According to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “Surveys showed that more than half the women in this country delayed or avoided preventive care because of its cost.” Hopefully, the changes that go into affect today will help increase the number of women seeking preventative and basic care.
Of course, there is controversy surrounding this. You really thought that the GOP would let legislation with the words “birth control” in it pass without a hissy fit? I know, I know… I was hoping too. In order to prevent the law from being over turned, Obama issued an exception for all religiously-affiliated organizations to receive an additional year to institute these changes, while the Catholic church (and other religious organizations) reach a compromise with the administration. This resistance also helped build an uprising of private business owners who happen to be religious and don’t want to pay for a health benefit they say violates their beliefs. Why should their beliefs affect their employees’ bodies? Didn’t we get passed that a long time ago when we decided men couldn’t vote for their wives? My thoughts: suck it up selfish bigots. Sadly, a Colorado federal judge decided last Friday that a family owned heating and air conditioning company does not have to follow the new rules for now. I am sure there will be more small lawsuits to follow as Obama administration tries to calm the Catholic church down from their fit (NPR). I would like to note there are many more important things that should be seen by the courts. And then Republicans wonder why bills aren’t being passed to increase jobs… because they keep appealing reproductive health bills!
A short round-up of what you are now entitled to:
- Your insurance company cannot drop you if you become ill. There are also no longer lifetime limits on care or limits on the amount of benefits in one year.
- Insurance companies can no longer require referrals or approval for obstetric or gynecological care.
- Now, at no cost, women under most insurance plans can receive
mammograms every 1-2 years after 40;
cervical cancer screenings;
prenatal screenings & tests;
diabetes and blood pressure screenings/counseling;
smoking/alcohol cessation programs;
well women visits;
Lactation consultation and supplies;
Interpersonal & domestic violence screening/counseling;
Gestational diabetes screening;
DNA co-testing for HPV;
Counseling regarding STIs, including HIV;
Screening for HIV.
- Children/young adults can be dependent’s on guardians’ health insurance plans until age 26 and for children 0-19, they cannot be denied based on pre-existing conditions.
- Medicare now covers annual check-ups, mammograms, and other preventive services at no-cost.
Starting in 2014,
- Insurance companies can no longer deny women coverage due to pre-existing conditions (i.e. C-section, breast or cervical cancer, care for domestic/sexual violence).
- Insurers can no longer charge women more than they do men for coverage!!!!
- Maternity coverage must be included in insurance plans.
- Over 10 million women will gain coverage under expanded Medicaid eligibility (however, many states are trying to opt out of this).
- A competitive health marketplace will be available for Americans to shop for new plans.
A cute graphic from Center for America Progress summing up the changes:
**To clear up any confusion, your tax dollars are NOT paying for my birth control, your girlfriend’s birth control, or the lady down the street’s birth control. We are paying for our own birth control through insurance premiums, not tax dollars. What the Affordable Care Act does is help to start making our insurance policies more equitable, not tossing out contraceptives like candy at a parade.