Snap Fact #272
What Would Women's Health Be Without ObamaCare?

Let's step back to those wonderful golden days of yesteryear before the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. It's only a little more than 2 years ago but many people have forgotten what it was like for women, children, and others when we were in the loving and caring hands of a relatively unbridled drug and insurance industry. Today's SNAP-CAP will focus on the wonderfulness of those times, particularly for the female gender.

Before the signing of ObamaCare women faced higher health care costs than men and faced pervasive discrimination in the health insurance market. Because of women's special reproductive health needs, they require more examinations and prescription drugs than men on average so women of reproductive age ended up spending 68 percent more on health care than men. One consequence of the higher cost of critically needed preventive care is that it kept millions of women from getting mammograms, pap smears, and prenatal care. When seeking to purchase health insurance, women could be denied for gender-related pre-existing conditions, including breast cancer, Caesarean sections, rape, and domestic violence. My wife was even denied for a phantom accusation that she had COPD that she never had. Those approved for coverage usually ended up paying significantly higher premiums than men, even though most individual health insurance plans didn't cover maternity care.

Now let's compare yesteryear to today under ObamaCare. The Affordable Care Act is correcting the injustices enumerated above. Forty-five million women have already taken advantage of important preventive services that now cost them nothing, including screenings for breast and cervical cancer, and prenatal, well-baby, and well-child care.
In August of 2012, women will also be able to get annual well-woman check-ups, screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding support and supplies, and screening for sexually transmitted infections at no cost. And in 2014, we can say goodbye to health insurance discrimination. Plans will have to cover maternity services; and premiums will be gender neutral.

These changes are particularly critical for reducing health disparities. Women of color are less likely to be insured and have higher rates of chronic diseases, certain forms of cancer, maternal mortality, and adverse birth outcomes, including premature birth and low birth weight. The Affordable Care Act not only helps women of color obtain the care they need, but also improves data collection on race, ethnicity, sex, disability, and primary language in order to track disparities and support more targeted and effective interventions in the future. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, who experience many similar health disparities, will also benefit from improved coverage and efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the new state-based health insurance exchanges.

But all of these key gains would be lost in 2013 with a Republican president and/or a Republican congress who are intent on overturning the Affordable Care Act. A ruling that overturns the law could send us back to that fabled time of yesteryear when half of all women delayed seeking medical care because of cost, when millions went without potentially life-saving - and money saving - cancer screenings, and when gender-based higher insurance premiums cost women an additional $1 billion a year.

What do you think? Wanna go back? Vote for Governor Romney if you do!