Rejoice, citizens of the United States! As of yesterday, the United States Supreme Court, as you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, upheld the Affordable Care Act. Yes, the target of obnoxious conservatives on Facebook feeds and Tea Party forums everywhere remains alive and kicking! But what does this mean to us vagina-owners? Well, comprehensive coverage! And less discrimination! And less gatekeepeing!
Like any good socialist (well, social democrat), I like not paying for stuff, especially when that stuff is designed to keep me alive and rabble-rousing. No wonder conservatives were out to strike it down! Really, it’s not free. Women will still have to pay premiums and deductibles and other insurance-realted costs. The goal of Obamacare, however, is to make health insurance affordable. So now, when we buy our less costly health insurance (thanks to a healthy dose of regulation), we won’t have to pay more simply for being women. In case you didn’t have a point of reference and just assumed your health insurance costs were comparable to men’s costs, they really aren’t. Just like when purchasing a car, women pay higher prices just because they’re women. The difference is you can haggle down a car salesman, and insurance companies don’t give a damn. Fortuntely, they now have to. Insurance companies will no longer be able to engage in discriminatory pricing.
On top of that whole equal cost deal, we can get our preventative lady parts checks covered now! This will be a huge relief for scores of women, because pap tests and mammograms are expensive. So are STI screenings. So are pelvic exams. And now, we get that covered. My first year on student insurance, I went to have my annual well-woman exam, and I was shocked to get a $300 bill (as in to pay, not to spend) in the mail for my exam and labwork. Now nobody else will have to deal with that shock. Maybe, just maybe, insurance robber barons will figure out that it’s cheaper to keep us from getting sick than curing us when we do. Not that they do that if they can find a reason to kick you off of your plan, of course.
And birth control, y’all! We get our birth control covered! This has been a huge point of contention, one that President Obama has thankfully not backed down on, despite major opposition from religious conservatives. Get over it, insurance, you’re paying for my no-baby, no-cramps pills! The ACA says that any FDA-approved method will be covered, but I’m skeptical. It’s going to be a fight to get them to cover my much-desired Implanon, but it’s one I’m willing to pull out all the stops for. Furthermore, Catholic institutions are not backing down, and they have stated that they will refuse to comply with the mandate. They then put their fingers in their ears and shouted “NANANA!! CAN”T HEAR YOU!”
Oh, and bye-bye, exceptions to pre-existing conditions, particularly those female-specific ones! We know at this point how insurance loves to screw over the womenfolk, particularly when it comes to stuff like having breast cancer or hell, even having had a c-section ten years ago. Nobody can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions, including such burdens to insurance like being a survivor of domestic violence or having asthma.
To top it off, there’s a little piece stuck inside the recently upheld legislation requiring insurance to cover screenings and counseling related to interpersonal violence. Yes, there are centers and shelters that already provide free counseling to survivors of domestic violence, but seeing it laid out as something insurance must cover is wonderful. However, I’m not personally sure whether I see this as an acknowledgement of the violence women face (because it’s in the portion of the bill that mandates preventative women’s healthcare) or as a “Domestic violence? That’s a lady thing, right?” approach. Either way, it’s a relief for those who are survivors. They don’t have to worry about finding a center in their area and will have greater freedom to choose a counselor.
Then there’s the biggest thing for women: the expanded coverage. The ACA intends to expand coverage to milions who can’t currently afford it by way of lowered costs, subsidies for those who can’t afford the lower cost, and expanded Medicaid coverage for the poorest Americans. One of the greatest barriers to women has been economic inequality, and when healthcare costs take up huge parts of one’s salary (especially when the premium is far higher than any man’s), it is easy to stay in that position of inequality. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has chosen to narrowly define the Medicaid provision, meaning that states may refuse to participate. The cost, however, would be the new Medicaid funds, which are in the $100 million range.
This really is, as Joe Biden once said, a big fucking deal, for women and everyone else. For so long we have been discriminated against, been steamrollered by big business insurance companies. We’ve been devalued, humiliated, told we don’t matter. We’ve been reduced to body parts, as if we weren’t used to that by now. We’ve watched as our father, brothers, friends, male partners get their fucking boner pills covered, but we can’t get a pap test to make sure we aren’t dying from cervical cancer. We’ve had our conditions minimized or blown out of proportion, all so they can refuse to pay or kick us off our plans. We’ve gone hungry trying to save money to get our kid to the doctor because we’re too poor for insurance and too rich for Medicaid. But fortunately, we’ve got five people in power who care at least a little, and that’s one step in the right direction.
The fight isn’t over for some of us. Conservative states will undoubtedly try to see how long they can go without all of that delicious Medicaid funding. Texas, for example, is quite skilled at refusing federal funds at the expense of its citizens in order to make a political point that only the wealthy and/or well-employed can actually afford to make. I foresee many states deciding that the socialist anarchy that has clearly destroyed such places as Canada and Great Britain will not stand here and trying to opt out. What I’m hoping is that the lure of the dollar signs and the roar of the citizens will be too much to ignore, and those states will cave. I’m already gearing up to put on my best protesting shirts and stand on Rick Perry’s doorstep. This has been a long and hard-won battle, and while we haven’t come close to getting the healthcare system we need, I’m still going to fight to keep what I now legally have.
For more info on the ACA decision and what it means: