The controversial Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been upheld in the US, meaning that all Americans must purchase health insurance or face a penalty. A lot of people are unhappy about this, claiming the government is overstepping its bounds, that it’s unfair to impose a penalty, and so on.
From a sexual health standpoint? I’m going to call this a win. Especially from women’s perspectives.
I posted earlier this year about how women face greater health care costs than men do in the US, and about how that’s unfair (duh). The graphic in this post illustrates that inequality. Women now can receive an extensive list of preventative coverage services without a copay. Some of these, like STI testing and domestic violence counseling, could well save the lives of women who would otherwise not be able to afford these services.
Moreover, one of the benefits to the ACA is that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to women for preexisting conditions such as cancer or being pregnant. I think this is wonderful news, especially given the pressure on women to become mothers. Now, at least, they and their newborns will have access to health care no matter their situation.
Yes, the ACA might be flawed in its execution, and perhaps we’ll have to scrap it and find a way to do it better. However, I hope that we also begin to ask why women’s health care has been more expensive in the past, and seek to remedy that inequality. Is it because of costs associated with pregnancy? If so, those should be spread out through society, as having children is something that furthers the species. Are women’s higher health care costs occurring because of depression or stress from being second-class citizens (such as making less money than men on the same jobs and facing higher rates of sexual abuse)? If so, we should address those issues too.
In the end, I agree with Feministe blogger Kristen J that the issue of health care has become “a question of whether we as a society believe that holding on to money is more important than someone else’s survival.” Women need access to affordable health care to improve and sometimes save their lives. That’s why I (as a woman and as a sex blogger) support the ACA, at least until something better comes along.
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