Today marks the eighth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and according to a poll released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation, public support for this health reform bill has hit an all-time high. Before the ACA was signed into law in 2010, women could be charged more for health insurance based on their gender, women were not guaranteed maternity and prenatal care and there was no women’s preventive services.
Historically, American families have been burdened by the costs of preventive health care. Financial costs of preventive care and any further treatment may have limited some women from seeking appropriate services prior to the passage of the ACA. Having increased access to health care for millions of Americans, the ACA’s impact has been significantly positive for women – not only is the rate of uninsured women now at an all-time low, the ACA also made sure the vast majority of women of all ages have better access to preventive care without financial barriers.
Thanks to the ACA, most private health insurance plans must cover women’s preventive services without additional out-of-pocket costs to women, including well-woman visits, contraception counseling and follow up care, sexually transmitted infections (STI) counseling, interpersonal and domestic violence screening, cervical cancer screening, gestational diabetes screening, HIV screening, breast cancer screening, and breastfeeding services and supplies. These services were established using evidence-based, scientific review and assessments of which services are shown to provide most benefit and value to women’s health and lives.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, women’s use of preventive services has been on the rise since the ACA’s passage. In 2017, eighty-one percent of women reported that they have had a well-woman visit in the past year, and most women have had cancer screenings in the past year, including 71 percent of women receiving a mammogram and 66 percent receiving a Pap test.
Yet despite this important progress in overall use of women’s preventive services, data continues to show disparities in women receiving preventive care. Why is this? It’s a combination of financial means, social and cultural aspects, and knowledge of these services.
That’s why we created the Care Women Deserve campaign with a mission to educate people about these preventive services available at no out-pocket-costs and remind everyone that the ACA is what made it available. There is still much to work to be done to build off of the foundation laid by the ACA to ensure coverage of the services. You can take action by taking advantage of the services. Start by scheduling your well-woman visit and talking to your health care provider about the preventive services you need to stay healthy. Then, spread the word and tell the loved ones in your life to get the care they deserve.