Happy Contraceptives Day, Everyone!
Today is the day that the provision in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act regarding women’s sexual health goes into effect, and I couldn’t be prouder of our nation.
Today is the day that your health insurance is required to start providing the most essential of sexual health screenings and all FDA approved contraception without co-pay. This is huge. According to CBS News, these are the services that your health insurance is required to provide without charging you a co-pay:
- Well-woman visits, including an annual check-up for adult women to get recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their doctors determine them necessary.
- Contraception and contraceptive counseling: Women will have free access to all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling without a co-pay. Most workers in employer-sponsored plans are currently covered for contraceptives.
- Gestational diabetes screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future and the children of women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant during childhood.
- HPV DNA testing every three years for women who are 30 or older, regardless of Pap smear results. HPV screening has been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.
- Annual sexually transmitted infections (STI) counseling for sexually-active women. Such sessions have been shown to reduce risky behavior in patients; only 28 percent of women aged 18-44 years reported that they had discussed STIs with a doctor or nurse, according to HHS.
- HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women. From 1999 to 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 15 percent increase in AIDS cases among women, and a 1 percent increase among men, suggesting an increased risk for women.
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling for pregnant and postpartum women, including access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment.
- Interpersonal and domestic violence screening and counseling for all adolescent and adult women. An estimated 25 percent of U.S. women report being targets of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes and screening will lead to interventions to increase their safety.
Already covered under the law are other free preventive services for women recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of doctors that advise the government on treatment guidelines. These include mammograms every 1-2 years for women over 40, cervical cancer screenings and prenatal care.
The ever-awesome Guttmacher Institute has put out a video explaining why contraceptives need to be covered under health insurance, and another detailing why abortions are a necessary thing to be covered under health insurance too.
Of course, there are those who believe that this is A Bad Thing. Most amusingly, so far, has been Pennsylvania Representative Mike Kelly who, in a spectacular show of insensitivity, has compared today to both Pearl Harbor and 9-11.
Here’s a newsflash for you, Representative Kelly, pap smears are nothing like acts of war. I should know, as I’ve lived through both.