Why Obamacare is important for women’s health

Womens' Health Week BannerThis week is Women’s Health Week, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women will be leading longer, healthier lives because they now have access to critical services like maternity care and preventive checkups. Women’s health is critical to our economy, family and community because they are mothers, senators, sisters, CEOs, aunts, nurses, wives and friends.

Today, because of the healthcare law, women have more freedom and control over their own healthcare choices. In 2011, 20.4 million women with private health insurance gained expanded preventive services with no cost sharing – including mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, flu and pneumonia shots, and regular well-baby and well-child visits. Young adults can now stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26 years old, so an additional 1.1 million women of that age have health insurance. Additionally, 24.7 million women enrolled in Medicare have received preventive services without cost-sharing – including an annual wellness visit, a personalized prevention plan, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for women at risk of osteoporosis.

Young adults can now stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26 years old, so an additional 1.1 million women of that age have health insurance. Additionally, 24.7 million women enrolled in Medicare received preventive services without cost-sharing – including an annual wellness visit, a personalized prevention plan, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for women at risk of osteoporosis.

The full benefits of the healthcare law are being phased in over the next several years. This August, women will be able to access additional preventive services with no cost-sharing including well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, domestic violence screening, breastfeeding supplies and contraceptive services.

Extremist Republicans, like the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Governor Scott Walker in my own state of Wisconsin, talk about repealing the Affordable Care Act. Maybe they’re forgetting the facts about how hard it was for women to get care before the healthcare law was put into place?

Before Obamacare, women’s health was in the hands of the insurance industry and they were charged more for insurance just because of their gender, C-sections and being a victim of domestic violence were considered pre-existing conditions. Only 13% of health plans in the individual market include maternity care and insurance companies limited care or dropped care when it was needed most.

For those who would continue to play politics with healthcare, or seek to take away the benefits of the law, we would ask them to reflect on the importance of the health of the women in their lives. During Women’s Health Week this year, celebrate by making an appointment for a checkup and educating others about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

» Some resources to help you get started here and here.

» Follow the conversation on Twitter about Women’s Health Week via hashtag #NWHW .

» This Women’s Health Week, take charge of knowing what’s happening with women’s health and the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act by signing up for SEIU’s healthcare breaking text alerts.

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