This week Planned Parenthood celebrates a critical early milestone for women’s preventive health under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Specifically, the birth-control benefit that began going into effect on Wednesday will start making birth control available at no cost to millions of women, providing essential preventive care and easing the strain on Minnesota’s household budgets.
As the region’s leading women’s health-care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota knows firsthand how critical the birth-control benefit is for women and families, not just for their health but also for their pocketbooks. We see the need for affordable health care every single day, and we know these advances for women will have a tremendous economic impact on stretched family budgets in our state. For the one in five women who relies on Planned Parenthood at some point in her life, the preventive benefits that start rolling out this week will help ease the struggle of deciding whether to pay for birth control or pay for textbooks, groceries or gas for the car.
Benefit start times will vary
Women will see this benefit at varying times depending on their plans. Specifically, the birth-control benefit started Wednesday for women on new private insurance plans and will continue to take effect for other plans over the coming months. (Women should call the member-services number on the back of their insurance cards to find out when this benefit kicks in for them.)
The Affordable Care Act is the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation. As the benefits for women’s preventive care continue to roll out, millions of women will gain access to basic preventive care at no cost, including birth control, cancer screenings, well-woman exams, and screenings for diabetes and high blood pressure.
Additionally, under the ACA women will no longer have to pay more for health insurance than men, and people can no longer be denied insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions like breast cancer, having a C-section, or being the victim of domestic violence.
Preventive care is basic health care
The American public isn’t interested in reopening fights over health-care reform. The focus now needs to be on making sure the women and families who need it most have access to affordable, quality health care.
The bottom line is that for women, preventive care (like cancer screenings and birth control) isn’t a political issue; it’s basic health care and an economic concern.
Sarah Stoesz is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.
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