Health-care reform isn’t scary…but doing nothing is frightening

September 14, 2009

For the past several weeks, at town halls all across the nation, millions of Americans who understand the need for vital health reform legislation were subjected to seemingly endless myths, lies, and scare tactics circulating about health-care reform. Death panels. Loss of private insurance. Cuts to Medicare. Rationing of care. It’s scary stuff. Thankfully, most people were too smart to fall for it. But what’s really scary is what will happen without commonsense health-care reform.

AAUW believes that everyone is entitled to health care that is high quality, affordable, and easily accessible. This is particularly true for women, who in most cases are making the critical health-care decisions for American families. AAUW acknowledges that there are immense challenges involved in achieving meaningful health-care reform, but we are equally aware that failure to do so is simply not an option.

Without health-care reform, insurance companies could continue the discriminatory practice of gender rating, and women could continue to pay monthly premiums ranging from 4 to 48 percent higher for individually purchased health-care plans than men typically pay. That’s scary.

Without health-care reform, insurance coverage for basic reproductive health-care services for women could continue to be denied. That’s scary.

Without health-care reform, access to and coverage of preventive services like screenings, immunizations, and educational material may not be covered or expanded, and women could continue to die of preventable and treatable diseases. That’s scary.

Here at AAUW, we’ve encouraged our friends and allies in Congress and around the country to insist that these three key elements be included in any final health-care reform legislation. While there is no shortage of proposals for how health-care reform should be achieved, AAUW’s emphasis is on ensuring that whichever program ultimately emerges provides access to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Health care is intrinsically tied to economic security; this is particularly true for women, who earn less than men on average and use more health-care services than men do. These two factors — less income, greater costs — mean that women face a higher level of health-care insecurity. Health-care reform is necessary now more than ever, and it must focus on the need for access and affordability — in a way that is equitable to women.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar Ruth Johnson Smiley says:

    When Sen. Jon Kyl argued against mandating maternity benefits as part of basic insurance coverage because “I don’t need maternity care,” he reminded me of my experience in the 1960s. My employer offered two health insurance options–an individual policy for the employee only or a family policy that covered employee, spouse, and children. Maternity coverage was included in the family policy but was for the spouse only; no maternity coverage was in the individual policy. Go figure–a female employee could not get maternity coverage! Furthermore, prescriptions for oral contraceptives were not covered. A female employee who opted for family coverage paid the same monthly premium (for less coverage) as a male employee. Now I understand the logic–these decisions were made by men who didn’t need maternity coverage (just as long as their wives were covered).

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