The Affordable Care Act has done scores of good for women who now, regardless of income or insurability, have access to life-saving screenings that they may have otherwise foregone.
Q: Why is the Affordable Care Act important for women specifically?
Marla Ahlgrimm: As recently as just a few years ago, a woman must have had insurance or have paid out-of-pocket to receive certain healthcare screenings. With the exorbitant cost of medical care today, the screenings were not within reach of a large number of American women. As a result, many suffered unknowingly with diseases like breast or cervical cancer until it was too late. The Affordable Care Act made women a priority by offering screenings like these, and more, to women as part of their monthly health-care premiums.
Q: How has the Affordable Care Act affected maternity coverage?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Since the inception of the act, maternity coverage in America is now guaranteed. This coverage, which provides for the health of both the mother and unborn baby, was often not included in traditional insurance plans. Unfortunately, because of this, many mothers went without vital prenatal care.
Q: Is birth control covered?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes, like maternity insurance, contraceptives are now covered with no out-of-pocket costs to women of childbearing age. This is important because it empowers women to make sexual decisions for themselves without fear of an unplanned pregnancy.
Q: What is the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program?
Marla Ahlgrimm: This program is a project partly directed by Sen. Tammy Baldwin. It is a cooperative program that helps low-income women coordinate the clinical screenings that could save their lives, thanks to early detection. The program works hand-in-hand with the expanded services available through the Affordable Care Act to help women obtain breast exams, Pap smear test, and other health screenings.
Q: Prior to the Affordable Care Act, how did health care companies discriminate against women?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A woman could be dropped from a health insurance plan if she received treatment for cervical or breast cancer. Additionally, many insurance providers did not include prenatal services in their basic healthcare coverage – something that all women and infants should have access to.