Today, Obama signed the health care bill. And I’m excited, because personally I think that health care should be a right, not a privilege, and it’s about time America made that a reality.
So how will the bill affect women?
Well, women are a part of the general population, and a bill that will provide coverage to 32 million uninsured people is sure to help a lot of women. But some people are saying that the bill will help women in particular, as it will require private insurance companies to pay for preventative care (which includes mammograms). In addition, the bill will help women, who are four times more likely than men to contract an autoimmune disease, by getting rid of lifetime coverage limits. So it seems to be pretty good, right?
But on the other hand, what about abortion? An interesting article by Jodi Jacobson explains that the Nelson Ammendment requires every person to write two healthcare checks if they choose a plan that covers abortions, one for their regular premium and one for the money that could potentially go for abortions. Today more than 85 percent of women with private insurance are enrolled in plans that cover abortions. However, if insurance companies must go through a complicated process to provide people with the option of abortion, they potential cost of doing so will act as a deterrent and probably decrease the number of insurance plans covering abortions. In addition, there is no requirement that in each insurance exchange there must be at least one plan covering abortion, which means that for some women, it may be impossible for them to find a plan with abortion coverage at all.
NARAL Pro-Choice America made the following statement yesterday:
The legislation includes an onerous provision that requires Americans to write two separate checks if the insurance plan they choose includes abortion coverage. This unacceptable bureaucratic stigmatization could cause insurance carriers to drop abortion coverage, even though more than 85 percent of private plans currently cover this care for women. Our message to our allies in Congress and in the White House is clear: We do not accept this bill as the final word on how abortion coverage will be defined in the new health-care system. We are committed to finding opportunities to repeal these unacceptable restrictions as the new system takes shape…At the same time, we recognize that the bill will bring more than 30 million Americans into a system that includes affordable family-planning services, better access to contraception, and maternity care. …We applaud this tremendous progress, but we will continue to work toward a day when these kinds of achievements can be made without undermining women’s access to abortion coverage.
And I think that basically sums up the big problem that pro-choice legislators had to deal with: which is more important, health care expansion or ensured abortion coverage? And I guess at this point in time, health care won out, especially in light of the need for anti-choice support for the bill. So I, at least, am excited to see how much this health care change will do for the US, but also know that looking forward there is still a need for changes to be enacted to ensure that women have the abortion coverage that they deserve.