August, 2012 -Effective August 1st, thanks to Obamacare, all health insurance providers are required to cover the entire cost of preventive care for women, thus removing a huge burden on household budgets.   Last year alone, for example, over half of women put off recommended preventive health care because of the cost.  (The Commonwealth  Fund , 2011).

Now, having to choose between taking care of themselves and paying the bills are over.  47 million women will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing, including more than 212,000 in Maine.

And yet these changes are flying below the radar in most of the mainstream media.  Even some Human Resources managers and health care professionals are in the dark.  As a result many women may not know that they can now access preventive health care without co-pays and without deductibles.

Among the services covered are:

. Well-woman physicals, including Pap smears and mammograms for women over 40, and possibly even colon cancer screenings if their doctor thinks they should have it.

. Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases

. HPV DNA testing for women 30 and older.

. Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling

. FDA-approved contraceptive methods, education and counseling

. Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling

. HIV screening and counseling

. Sexually transmitted infections counseling

. Details are available at www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/

This is a huge deal for American women considering that the cost of women not getting preventive health care is an estimated $466 billion per year in treating preventable conditions.  (The Commonwealth Fund study, 2009)  And prior to these protections now offered by Obamacare, women paid up to 50% more for health care than men (Source: USA Today, July 31, 2012).

The savings for procedures no longer subject to co-pays or deductibles, especially well-woman and baby visits, will also make a big difference in household budgets, savings that will flow back into the economy.

But the Obamacare provisions for women are not about cost alone.  They are about saving lives.

Regular mammograms for women over 40 result in 30% fewer breast cancer deaths (ABC News, June 28, 2011, report on Swedish and other studies).  Not to mention that Pap smears and HPV testing reduce dramatically the odds of dying from cervical cancer.

Democrats across the country fought long and hard for the Affordable Care Act online, on the phone and door-to-door to save women money and quite literally, their lives.

And of course, Republicans are in a collective swoon over health reform, vowing to repeal the entire ACA and with it, these benefits for women.  For example, Sen. Jon Kyle (R – AZ) has famously stated that since he didn’t need maternity care, he saw no reason to require insurance companies to provide it for anyone.

Still, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is now the Law of the Land, a law that will make all the difference in the world for women to control their own bodies and their own lives.  Life is now a lot better for them, their loved ones and for everyone.

 

 

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