by Félix Pérez
Beginning last week, millions of women assumed greater control over their health care, taking decisions out of the hands of insurance companies. From well-woman visits to domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling, women now have access to eight no-cost, preventive services that can catch potentially serious illnesses and diseases at an earlier, treatable stage.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stated:
When it comes to health, women are often the primary decision-maker for their families and the trusted source in circles of friends. Women often take care of their families first and put off their own health care needs. Too often, they have gone without preventive services, worrying about what even a $20 insurance copay would mean to their families’ budgets and choosing to pay for groceries or rent instead.
The new screenings and tests, a result of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, are in addition to other services already available through the health care law at no extra cost to women. Among these are mammograms, flu shots, cervical cancer tests and cholesterol screenings.
According to a report issued last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 47 million women eventually will benefit from the new services without copays or deductibles.
“Increased access to these services will help improve health and well-being among women. For example, family planning services improve maternal health and birth outcomes through encouraging appropriately spaced pregnancies, and breastfeeding support can help improve child health and development,” stated the HHS report.
Some of the other new services are:
- Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive products, which have proven health benefits like a reduced risk of cancer and protecting against osteoporosis
- Gestational diabetes screenings that help protect the mother and her child from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases, and
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 or older.
President Obama has touted the wellness benefits and cost savings from the Affordable Care Act to women, children and young adults, especially since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law in in June.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans, on the other hand, have made clear that they will repeal the law in its entirety on day one of a Romney administration.
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