Many women in the United States do not have health insurance. As a result, they don’t get the health care they need and their health suffers. Compared to women with health insurance, uninsured women are:
* Less likely to receive preventive care or treatment for disease.
* More likely to be diagnosed with cervical and other cancers at a late stage and die from the disease or its complications due to a delay in diagnosis.
* Less likely to get prenatal care during pregnancy. The babies of uninsured women are also more likely to be born with a low birthweight and die within the first year of life.
* Less likely to use a prescription contraceptive, which can lead to unintended pregnancy.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) can help. It expands Medicaid—the state-federal health insurance program for low-income individuals—which is one of the health care reform provisions that ACOG supports. The percentage of uninsured women ages 19–64 could decrease from 20% to 8%, but this will happen only if all 50 state governors decide to expand their Medicaid programs. ACOG encourages all states to accept this expansion offer, under which the federal government will pay all the costs until 2016. After that, the federal contribution gradually drops, but only to 90% in 2020 and beyond.
The ACA also makes it easier for states to provide Medicaid birth control coverage to low-income women by eliminating bureaucratic red tape.
With Election Day approaching rapidly, I encourage you to find out what the candidates in your state support. Use your vote to make it clear to your state lawmakers that expansion of Medicaid is good for women’s health.
For more information:
Gerald F. Joseph Jr, MD, is ACOG vice president for practice activities.