My Vote Is for Better Health Care for Young Women

October 12, 2011

My mother told me to get health insurance when she dropped me from my parents’ plan when I was in my early 20s. But I couldn’t afford it. I was finishing my undergraduate degree, and my three-nights-a-week waitressing gig just did not provide me the income to pay for it. Even if I had bought health insurance, back then it did not cover many things that were important to my personal health needs, such as visits to the gynecologist and other preventative care. I look back on that time, and I feel like I dodged a bullet.

But now, because of the women’s health provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, young men and women will have the option to be on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, and that insurance must cover preventative care without co-pays or cost-sharing from the patient.

Preventative health care for young women is critically important. For example, cervical cancer is the third most common type of cancer in women and is very treatable with early detection.

Annual visits to a gynecologist provide this sort of detection as well as testing for sexually transmitted diseases, which can lead to infertility and even death if left untreated. Starting in January 2013, contraceptive coverage and counseling will be provided without co-pay as will prenatal screening and care, breastfeeding counseling, and other critical services like domestic violence counseling. These and other preventive services for women can literally be lifesaving.

But these provisions didn’t just happen. They were written into the Affordable Care Act by and with the support of congressional champions for women’s health. That’s why, from now until the 2012 elections, I’ll be closely monitoring the candidates for office in my home state of Florida and for the presidency. I’ll be interested to know about their commitment to women’s preventive health care and how my vote can have an impact on the health of millions of American women.

If you want to show how much your vote matters, then join me and the rest of AAUW as we begin ramping up for My Vote, the AAUW Action Fund’s new voter education and turnout campaign.

To stay in the loop, sign up for the AAUW Action Network, and if you’re a member of AAUW, make sure you’re on the list to receive AAUW’s weekly Washington Update e-newsletter.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Caroline Talev.

By:   |   October 12, 2011

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