Originally published June 29, 2012 in Role/Reboot
Yesterday the United States Supreme Court upheld the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The court’s narrow vote of 5 to 4 means millions of American women will have dramatically better health care.
ObamaCare phases in over time. Under its provisions:
● Women presently receive pap smears, mammograms, pre-natal care, well-baby and well-child care without deductibles or co-pays. Forty-five million women have already had the benefit of these services.
● Women will receive without additional cost starting in August 2012:
●an annual gynecological visit
●a contraception visit and provision of FDA-approved contraceptives
●gestational diabetes screening
●screening for STDs
●breastfeeding support and supplies.
● Women will no longer be charged more for their insurance coverage just because they’re women. Now women pay $1 billion more than men each year for the same individual plans. ObamaCare’s elimination of “gender rating” will take effect in 2014.
●Women will no longer be denied coverage for gender-related pre-existing conditions such as a prior Caesarean section or being a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. The prohibition of such coverage denials will become effective in 2014.
●Women will receive coverage of maternity care under individual health care plans starting in 2014, as opposed to present individual plans that routinely exclude it or provide inadequate coverage because of waiting periods or deductibles as high as the cost of delivery itself. This one change will benefit as many as nine million women.
While these changes are clear-cut and dramatic, ObamaCare advantages women in ways that are less easily quantified.
●Because women use more prescription drugs and have more diagnosed chronic illnesses and mental health problems than men, ObamaCare will help them more.
●Women tend to have higher out-of-pocket medical expenses than men, especially for contraception.
●Women are more likely to be carried as dependents on medical insurance which makes them more vulnerable to losing coverage if they divorce or their spouses lose their job.
●Because of the gender wage gap, women are less able to afford the care they need and are more likely to declare bankruptcy because of medical expenses.
Americans should recognize the extraordinary power of the Supreme Court to affect our daily lives as it did by validating ObamaCare. Another weighty, more troublesome, example of the Supreme Court’s reach is its Citizens United decision granting corporations the right to political speech. That case, too, was decided by a five – four vote.
In our country’s history, only four Presidents have not appointed at least one justice during the president’s term. Four of the present members of the Supreme Court are in their seventies. It is anticipated that one or more justices will leave office during the term of the President elected in 2012.
The narrow victory for ObamaCare demonstrates the importance of individual Supreme Court justices. The likelihood that the man elected President this fall will nominate a jurist with such a profound influence on the lives of U.S. citizens should serve as an incentive for all of us to vote in the November elections.