President Obama has made health care reform a top priority,
which is welcome news to millions of un- or under-insured Americans.
Under the current system, women who purchase their own coverage already
pay more then men – sometimes up to 50% more.
As justification for the higher rates, insurers cite the fact that
women tend to use more heath care, especially during their childbearing
years. However, the rate disparity between women and men doesn’t
disappear in insurance plans which do not cover maternity care.
Healthcare reform holds the promise of more equitable pricing of
insurance for men and women.
(both insured and uninsured) shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief just
yet, however. Women’s access to reproductive health care is currently
under attack from both the left and the right. Nineteen
House Democrats have said that they will not vote for healthcare
legislation unless it explicitly excludes abortion coverage. The Republican leadership of the Senate Finance Committee is considering language in healthcare reform legislation that would eliminate coverage for abortion services. The exclusion of abortion services could result in women who currently have coverage losing that coverage, and prevent currently uninsured women from ever receiving coverage.
Health insurance is only as good as the services it covers, and having
health insurance that doesn’t cover the services you need is tantamount
to having no health insurance at all.
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While healthcare reform is essential, reform at the expense of women’s health is too high a price to pay. In
addition to expanding the number of people who have health insurance,
lawmakers should ensure that reform includes the healthcare services
Americans need. In the case of American women, that need is
comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion coverage.
Comprehensive health care reform should be just that – comprehensive.