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Health Care Reform: A Women’s Health Issue

Since the enrollment deadline on March 31st, a little over 8 million Americans have signed up for health insurance in the private marketplace with women accounting for 54% of this enrollee total. Not only does the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have many health care benefits for women, but also provides financial relief for women. In the past, many women reported delaying needed care because of cost and many others were forced to make a tradeoff in order to get proper health care. Also before the ACA, women who struggled to get access to birth control reported using it inconsistently because of their struggle to cover the cost, putting them at a greater risk for unintended pregnancy and the implications that may come along with that for a woman who is not in a financial standpoint to have a child. These are all issues that are on their way to being resolved with the ACA and it is time that we realize that health care reform is, in fact, a women’s health issue. 

Now, with the ACA, women are able to get affordable health insurance and do not have to pay more than a man with the same plan, they are able to access birth control at little to no cost, and can qualify for various subsidies and exemptions in order to help pay for their health insurance if they cannot afford it. These are just some of the many ways that women are winning with the ACA and can continue to win if Americans start to realize that health care reform is the next wave of a modern feminist movement. 

As we continue to empower young women to become leaders and make smart decisions for their futures, we need to remember to empower them to make the right decisions for their health. Research by the Guttmacher Institute shows that young women are, on average, becoming sexually active at a younger age but are waiting longer to get married and have children. Guttmacher has also found that the time of first sexual intercourse and first contraception use are growing to be one in the same. This shows the growing need for the preventive services that the ACA provides, such as birth control and STI screening, that allow women to take control of their reproductive health in a way that they have not been able to before.

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Along with this birth control coverage, many other health care benefits with the ACA are enabling women to live out healthy lives every day. It is time to realize that when women are healthy and are able to make responsible decisions for themselves and their families, our society reaps the benefits. As women are continually present in the workforce and in positions of power, we need to make sure that women can continue to have these opportunities by maintaining access to good health care. Things like the well-women visits, mammograms, and Pap smears that are all a part of the new coverage provisions of the ACA are all factors that help women stay healthy so that they can provide for themselves and their families.

Before the ACA, many did not realize the disparities that existed between men and women in the health care system. Now that the ACA has given women the opportunity for and access to health care equality, we can finally see clearly that health care reform is necessary for the continued well-being, economic, and social success of women in our society. 

Below is a video from the Guttmacher Institute on how contraception and women’s health laws can impact women :

Check out some other great resources for more information:

whitehouse.gov: http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform

Guttmacher Institute: http://www.guttmacher.org/index.html

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll – April 2014: http://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-april-2014/

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