The Importance of Women’s Preventive Services

The Future of Women's Preventive Services Congressional Briefing

Care Women Deserve hosted “The Future of Women’s Preventive Services” congressional briefing to discuss the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative, the importance of the Affordable Care Act in improving women’s overall health, and how women’s preventive health connects to broader issues in women’s health policy. Women’s preventive services are an important aspect of public health. As Dr. Jeanne Conry, Past President of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists highlighted, “when we invest in the health of women, we are effectively investing in the health of this generation and future generations.”

“These preventive services are developed and recommended based on evidence and were created in order to address gaps in coverage,” said Heidi Nelson, Project Team Member of the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative.

Immense progress has been made in improving access and utilization of women’s preventive services since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Before the ACA, being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of National Women’s Law Center. “Now, 62 million women have coverage of preventive services without out-of-pocket costs. The fact that you can get the care you need without having to share an additional cost burden is making a tremendous difference. Women are now accessing preventive care at rates higher than before the ACA.”

While great strides have been made in women’s health since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, health-disparities still exist and must be improved. “Black women are often diagnosed later with preventable conditions, often at an advanced stage,” said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of Black Women’s Health Imperative. “Black women who are highly educated have maternal mortality rates that are equivalent to white women with an eighth-grade level of education. We have to make sure the access is there and that Black women take advantage of it.”

Women also still face obstacles to receiving family planning services. “There’s no question that when we think about women’s health, wellbeing and economic success those are directly linked with access to birth control,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of Power to Decide. “There’s still work to be done, more than 19 million women currently live in contraception deserts where women technically have birth control covered at no extra cost, but they have to travel far and wide to receive that care”

Women’s preventive health goes beyond the health of individual women but expands into family and children’s health. As Siobhan Dolan, Medical Advisor of March of Dimes explained, “Improving birth outcomes is about prevention. Having a healthy mom is really the most important way to have a healthy pregnancy.”

Moving forward, the panel emphasized the need to break down the silos in medicine, so patients and providers can better communicate with each other and women can get the care they need and deserve.

Check out the full video recording of the event on our Facebook page here.