Beginning tomorrow, women’s health care will get a big boost, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
Insurance companies will have to pay for women’s well-care with no out-of-pocket costs for women. That includes screenings for cervical and breast cancer, contraception, breastfeeding counseling and supplies and more.
Until the ACA, insurance companies could deny full coverage for birth control and women could be forced to pay co-pays (or full charge in the case of high-deductible plans) for mammograms and PAP tests.
While opponents are still fighting for the “right” to deny women coverage for birth control, most plans will cover it.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends screenings and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, for high blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes and for obesity and domestic violence.
The good thing about all of this is that breast and cervical cancers will be caught earlier, when they are most curable. Until now, women with high-deductible health insurance plans were as likely as uninsured women to have their cancers discovered at later stages and more likely to die from them.
Women in violent relationships can get help getting out before their abusers kill them instead of feeling helpless and trapped.
New mothers will get help in breastfeeding, which is better for both mother and baby — and far less expensive than formula.
Not only was denial of these services inhumane, it was incredibly expensive. Cancer is hideously expensive to treat — chemo can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, while a mammogram costs about $100 to provide. Even if an early cancer is discovered, a lumpectomy and perhaps one round of chemo are far less expensive than finding a cancer after it has spread, both in dollars and in human cost.
Allowing women no-cost access to these tests and services will save thousands of lives every year. Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, daughters and friends will survive because of it, and our overall medical costs will decline.
Sounds like a win-win to me.