With Healthcare Reform, Young Women Win

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After August 1, 2012 thanks to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, young American women will be able to obtain a number of crucial preventive services at no charge to them through most insurance plans. Previously some insurance companies did not cover these preventive services for women at all, other women had to pay deductibles or copays for the care they needed to stay healthy. The listed preventive services below will be offered without cost sharing beginning August 2012 in all new health plans.

Among those services:

  • Well-woman visits.
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.

This is a HUGE victory for young women since young women see their ob/gyn reliably. The most important part of this health victory is the affordable access to contraception.  According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), women are most at risk for an unintended pregnancy during there 20s. 54% of unplanned pregnancies between the ages of 20 and 29; 31 percent are under the age of 20; and 15% of unplanned pregnancies are among women age 30 and older.

If a young woman is uninsured, there can be up to $1200 in annual costs for oral contraceptives and related doctor appointments. Even an insured woman can spend more than $200 on her annual supply of oral contraception and related doctor’s appointments.

Given that the average annual income for working adults ages 18 to 34 is $27,458 these costs present real obstacles to young women’s access to care. Young women are least likely to have insurance for a variety of reasons, which primarily include working part-time jobs or temporary and low wage jobs that do not offer solid health benefits. This Great Recession has not made that access any easier. Studies have shown women 18-34 struggle to pay for contraception leading them not to use contraceptives consistently putting them at risk for an unplanned pregnancy or a reproductive health complication if they need contraception for other medical reasons.

Not to be forgotten, access to affordable contraception is not just about preventing pregnancy but providing important health care for women. More than half of pill users (58 percent) rely on the method at least in part for purposes other than pregnancy prevention such as for cramps or menstrual pain, menstrual regulation, acne, endometriosis and similar reproductive ailments. Contraception is crucial medicine for many women.

Younger women have truly benefited from an Obama administration. Now that 1.1 million young women are able to stay on their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26. Having access to affordable women’s health care ensures a tangible long-term benefit for America’s young women.

Atima Omara-Alwala
Vice President
Young Democrats of America