Currently, Republican congressmen and women are rushing to make good on one of their favorite campaign promises: repealing the Affordable Care Act. If and when they succeed, a lot is going to change about people's access to healthcare in America. And unfortunately, many women's healthcare rights are in danger of dying along with the ACA.
You'll hardly be surprised to hear that Republicans in the House and Senate aren't particularly well attuned to the plight of their female constituents. These are the people, after all, who spent a lot of time and taxpayer money trying to defund Planned Parenthood an effort that they are now renewing. Between that and their current, frenzied drive to get rid of the ACA, American women are going to be taking a serious hit as to their healthcare coverage.
As you know if you've ever been a woman or known one, women have gender-specific healthcare needs that are as basic and as necessary as bandaids and flu shots. And yet, now it's the beginning of 2017 and American women, particularly those who are most vulnerable, are in danger of losing the care that not only improves their quality of life, but also in many instances keeps them alive. Here are just a few elements of women's healthcare that millions of women could lose when Republicans bring the ACA down.
1. Easy Access To Contraception
Currently, the ACA defines birth control as a preventative service. Under the terms of the law, healthcare providers had to provide it to women without a co-pay — a provision that reportedly saved women $1.4 billion. Without the ACA, women would go back to having to pay for birth control if their insurance providers didn't want to cover it — and as you may remember, contraception can get massively expensive, depending on which type is best for you.
2. Cancer Screenings And Treatment
There are some types of cancer that mainly (or only) affect women, like breast cancer and ovarian cancer. If caught early and treated, these forms of cancer are totally beatable. Without access to regular screenings and affordable care, though, they can be killers.
Furthermore, Republicans do not support the ACA provision requiring insurers to ignore preexisting conditions. That means that cancer survivors could be denied insurance, just because they've gone through the trial of beating cancer in the first place.
3. Maternity Care
Obamacare required that individual and employer insurance plans covered maternity care. If it gets repealed, the insurance companies could easily decide to withdraw that, putting both mothers and their babies in danger of complications. The ACA repeal could also affect on the birthrate, if women wait to get pregnant until they've got everything sorted out. If you got pregnant and lost your insurance, it could be difficult to get onto another plan, as pregnancy can be classified as a preexisting condition. Take a minute to let that sink in — women might actually need to hold off on having children in order to make sure that they'll get the right healthcare coverage during their pregnancies.
4. Care For Diseases That Are More Prevalent In Women
Some diseases affect women more often than men, including many that would definitely be included under the umbrella of preexisting conditions. Autoimmune diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis disproportionately affect women, as do migraines and gallstones. If people who suffer from diseases like these lose their health insurance, then the majority of those people will be women.
5. Healthcare For Low-Income Women
Women in the U.S. are 35 percent more likely to be poor than men, and 70 percent of the poor people in the nation are women and children. The ACA expanded Medicaid to include people making up to 138 of the poverty level, and it follows that that provision affects more women than men. Without the ACA, those women and their families might no longer have access to healthcare at all.
If Republicans succeed at repealing the ACA without having an effective replacement all set to go, chaos will surely follow as people struggle to maintain their coverage. This promises to cause some turmoil for the country as a whole, but for each person in need of healthcare who will be suddenly deprived of it, the problems will be so much bigger than that.