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From the desk of ... Aliya Bean

Scarier than your worst 90’s outfit

January 26, 2017 | Health Care > Reproductive Health

Cross-posted to Medium

Throwback Thursday (#TBT) is usually a lighthearted way to show off your best (or worst) 90’s outfit or that funny picture of you as a toddler — but today’s #TBT is not nearly so amusing. Right now, extremists in Congress are working to undermine women’s health and access to care by repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They are trying to turn back the clock to a time when many women couldn’t afford contraception — when women were forced to choose between filling their birth control prescriptions and filling their grocery carts.

Before the ACA, women didn’t have guaranteed coverage for the birth control method that best fit their values and preferences. First, there was the problem of cost-sharing (out-of-pocket costs like copays or deductibles) — a huge barrier to accessing contraceptives. Pre-ACA, only 15 percent of women had coverage of the pill without cost-sharing. And Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives, or LARCs, in particular were unaffordable due to their high upfront costs.

Second, many women didn’t have access to the birth control method of their choice. Before the ACA, insurance companies could pick and choose which types of birth control to cover, limiting women’s options. Many women couldn’t afford the method of their choice, either because it wasn’t covered or because the cost-sharing was too high. But the ACA expanded coverage to the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods. If the ACA is repealed, women could once again have to jeopardize their economic security in order to access birth control, which 99 percent of sexually active women have used at some point in their lives.

Seems ridiculous, right? We should ensure access to the full range of high-quality preventative services like birth control, not create barriers to obtaining such care.

Fortunately, the ACA’s birth control benefit, which took effect in 2012, ended all that nonsense. Now, thanks to the ACA, most insurance plans must cover FDA-approved methods of birth control for women with no cost-sharing. That means women are able to access birth control through their health insurance plans without any out-of-pocket costs like copays, deductibles or co-insurance. Also, plans are not only required to cover the birth control pill, but also LARCs, including IUDs and contraceptive implants, which are considered the most effective methods of birth control.

Today, because of the ACA, 55 million women have coverage for preventive services like birth control without cost-sharing. In 2013 alone, women saved more than $1.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs on oral contraceptives. As of 2014, two-thirds of women in the United States who used oral contraception had no out-of-pocket costs—a dramatic and welcome shift.

All women need access to affordable contraception to plan if and when to have children, which helps create stability which, in turn, leads to greater achieve economic security.

Extremists in Congress are trying to send women back to the past — to the days when they had to choose between birth control and providing for themselves or their families. If opponents repeal the ACA, women’s health and financial security will suffer. If the ACA is repealed and women lose its birth control benefit, women will lose guaranteed access to affordable, high-quality health insurance that covers their essential needs.

Share this tweet to raise awareness about what’s at stake if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act.


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