Changes in Women’s Healthcare 2017: What You Need To Know Now
We’ve heard from a lot of women that they are concerned about what’s going to happen to women’s health care in 2017, between a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a Trump appointed new Supreme Court justice, and a Congress controlled by a party that is does not champion women’s reproductive rights. While changes may be afoot, we want to help you understand where the country is right now and what we as individuals can do in the next few months to assure that our voices are heard regarding women’s health care.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”)
You may have heard Donald Trump on the campaign trail promise to fully repeal the ACA on “day 1” of his administration. But don’t panic. At least not yet. Even if Congress were to repeal Obamacare in its entirety by February 1, it is incredibly unlikely that people who are insured through the marketplace will lose their insurance before the end of 2017. In fact, a Republican sponsored ACA-repeal bill that Obama of course refused to sign earlier this year called for a 2-year phase out program. So, even if the ACA is repealed without a replacement, you have some time before becoming uninsured.
Trump has also spoken about keeping two of the most popular facets of the ACA: a ban on denying coverage due to pre-existing coverage and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the kids turn 26. So that’s good news.
Whether the ACA is repealed, repealed and replaced, or amended, one issue to keep an eye on is maternity care. Before the passage of the ACA, individual health insurance plans rarely covered costs associated with pregnancy, whether it was pre-natal check ups and tests or giving birth. If a policy did cover pregnancy, it was generally much more expensive and most policies with maternity coverage considered it a “pre-existing condition”: you couldn’t get maternity coverage if you were already pregnant. You had to pay more for a policy that included maternity coverage, but there was a waiting period before you could get pregnant. Because of the ACA, whether you have insurance through work or an individual plan, maternity costs must be covered and cannot make the plan more expensive than an insurance plan for a man.
Preventive Care for Women
The ACA expanded the definition of what is considered “preventive care” for women, and requires that all marketplace plans provided this care, free of charge, without a co-payment or co-insurance, even if your deductible hasn’t been met (as long as the provider is in network on your plan). It is possible that many of these services could be removed if the ACA undergoes amendment or if a replacement is passed.
For the last 44 years, the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade has dictated that women have a constitutional right to receive an abortion, but states can regulate the particulars of abortion services. State laws vary widely so some states have less restrictive abortion laws, while others have very strict abortion laws. The current Illinois abortion law prohibits abortions after the fetus is considered viable, which is generally around 23-24 weeks. There are exceptions to this that protect the life and health of the pregnant woman.
However, many Republicans have, for years, pressed for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. Donald Trump’s stance on abortion has changed radically over the last 20 years but currently it seems likely that he will nominate a Supreme Court judge who will support overturning Roe v. Wade. Since the Republican Party controls the Senate, it is likely that the Senate will confirm Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court.
Should Roe v. Wade be overturned, individual states could pass laws that place further restrictions on when, why, and how women can receive abortions and some states may outlaw abortion altogether. While it is unlikely that all states would outlaw abortions, women who live in a state where abortion is illegal would need to be able to travel to a state where it was legal in order to obtain an abortion.
If you are concerned about your access to health insurance and healthcare, as well as the security of your reproductive rights, you can do a number of things to protect yourself and others. Organizations like the ACLU, NARAL, and the Center for Reproductive Rights do work at the state and federal level to protect women’s rights. You can donate to or volunteer with these organizations. You can also email and call your local, state, and federal representatives to voice your opinion.
In the meantime…
…be proactive about your health. Get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), have annual gynecological exams, and discuss birth control options with a doctor who is understanding and compassionate, like the providers at Women’s Aid Center in Chicago.
Women’s Aid Center in Chicago is owned and managed by women who specialize in women’s healthcare. We are dedicated to providing quality care for women and supporting women’s healthcare and reproductive rights. We offer a full range of women’s healthcare services, from STD & HIV screening, to birth control options, to abortion services. If you are in need of our assistance, please contact us toll free at (800) 998-4751 or fill out our online contact form and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.