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Big Benefits for WV Women Reported in Obamacare

Cover of report. Photo courtesy of Dan Heyman.
Cover of report. Photo courtesy of Dan Heyman.
September 14, 2012

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – A healthcare reform coalition has examined the Affordable Care Act's impact on West Virginia women, and says the two-year-old law should do a lot of good.

Renate Pore, health policy director with West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare, helped research the report, called "What Health Reform Means for Women and Families." She cites a Harvard study that estimates 200 West Virginians die every year because they don't have health insurance, and says many are women who don't get cancer screenings – screenings that will now be free.

"All kinds of cancer screenings. No woman needs to die of cervical cancer these days, if they get regular screening, and so that's covered. There won't be any financial reason why a woman can't get mammography screening."

Many conservatives have criticized the Affordable Care Act for mandating that religious employers cover the cost of contraceptives in their insurance plans. Pore says that issue is still being negotiated.

Nancy Tolliver is director of the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership, which advocates for pregnancy and infant health policy issues. To Tolliver, it is vital for the financial and physical health of West Virginia women that they can plan their pregnancies. She believes the new rule that contraceptives must be covered by insurance is a big plus.

"The most important question a woman can answer is whether and when to have a baby. And so this benefit will be a huge ally for them."

Tolliver says the reform also helps promote breastfeeding, which is good for babies.

"It gives them immunities that they don't get through any other form. Things as simple as earaches are less frequent in a newborn baby that's breastfed."

Another advantage, according to Pore, is that health insurance premiums for women now have to be the same as for men.

"You pay about twice as much as a man of similar age or health status, just because you're a woman. And that's going away."

Most broadly, many Republicans attack the reform as a government takeover of the health care system.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV