Get your women’s health checkup today. It’s covered!

By Lois Uttley

Overdue on your mammogram or Pap smear? Trying to quit smoking or lose weight? Thinking about having a baby?

It’s National Women’s Health Week. What better time to make an appointment and get caught up on the health care you need!

Many women’s health services are now covered by our health insurance plans without extra charges, like co-pays and deductibles, because of the new health care law (the Affordable Care Act). Because we don’t have to dig into our pocketbooks for those extra charges, we can actually afford to take advantage of the health insurance coverage we have.  Examples of what’s now covered without co-pays include:

  • Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women;
  • Mammograms every 1 to 2 years for women over 40;
  • Help quitting smoking, especially if you are pregnant;
  • Cholesterol and blood pressure tests;
  • Folic acid supplements for women who want to become pregnant; and
  • Osteoporosis screening for at-risk women over 60.

There’s improved coverage for our children, as well, including no-copay coverage for immunizations against common childhood diseases, tests of hearing and vision and screening for possible autism. And, our adult children can stay on our family health insurance policies until age 26, so we don’t have to worry about them going without health insurance after graduating from high school or college. In fact, we think the coverage for moms and our kids if so great, we’re calling it MamaCare!

We will have even more great preventive care coverage starting August 1, when the women’s preventive services provision of the health care law takes effect. From then on, all new health insurance plans will be required to cover, without co-pays, these critically-important women’s health services:

  • Contraceptive services, including birth control pills, IUDs and even tubal ligations;
  • Breastfeeding counseling and rental of press pumps;
  • Screening for STIs, gestational diabetes and domestic violence; and
  • Annual well-woman visits, when you and your primary care provider can make a plan to keep you healthy.

At Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, we’re counting down to this great new coverage that will benefit millions of women. Learn more about how you will benefit at our Countdown to Coverage website.

Lois Uttley, MPP, is co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative working to make sure the Affordable Care Act meets the needs of women and our families.

HERvotes Blog Carnival: No Religious Exemption for Birth Control Coverage

by Kim Gandy, Feminist Majority Foundation

Despite enormous pressure from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Obama Administration recently decided not to broaden the religious exemption for contraceptive coverage under the Preventive Care package of the Affordable Care Act. This demand for additional exemptions,  would have denied millions of American women contraceptive coverage, including students, teachers, nurses, social workers, and other staff (and their families) at religiously-connected or affiliated schools, universities, and hospitals, as well as agencies and institutions like Catholic Charities.

The Catholic Bishops are now leading a backlash against this decision, and women are speaking out.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of women who may have been denied access to birth control will now have full access under their health insurance plan, with no co-pays or deductibles, beginning in August 2012. Birth control is the number one prescription drug for women ages 18 to 44 years. Right now, the average woman has to pay up to $50 per month for 30 years for birth control. As a result, many women have had to forgo regular use of birth control and half of US pregnancies are unplanned.

Women of all faiths are employed by hospitals and schools that are owned by religious interests, and they should not be denied equal health care coverage.  We urge the Obama Administration to continue to stand strong for women’s health care.

Join us by sharing the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Take Action:

Join the Feminist Majority Foundation in chastising the Washington Post for repeatedly running editorials attacking the Obama administration’s decision.

Join The National Women’s Law Center and Raising Women’s Voices in thanking Kathleen Sebelius for making the right decision.

Join UltraViolet in thanking President Obama and Secretary Sebelius.

Thank the Obama administration directly on WhiteHouse.gov.

Join the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in telling President Obama you support birth control without co-pays.

Join The National Women’s Law Center in telling your senator to reject extreme legislation.

Join The Coalition of Labor Union Women in telling the Senate that you oppose S.2043.

Read more:

Sex, Contraception, Motherhood & The Current Madness - Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Mom’s Rising

The Long History of the War Against Contraception- Ellen Chesler, New Deal 2.0

Five Big Facts on Birth Control Not Nearly Enough Discussed by Men in the Mainstream Media- Erin Matson, NOW

Congressional Members’ Statements on Contraceptive Coverage Rule Not Based in Fact- Mara Gandal-Powers, National Women’s Law Center

Mission Accomplished With Komen: Now It’s Time to Save Birth Control Coverage!- Sammie Moshenberg, National Council of Jewish Women

Protect Women’s Health: Tell Your Senators to Reject Extreme Legislation- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center

I Don’t Use Birth Control, But I Want Access To It- Abigail Collazo, Fem 2.0

This Week’s Attack on Women: Deny Contraceptives! Take Action!!- Carolyn Jacobson and Carol S. Rosenblatt, Coalition of Labor Union Women

Would You Like an Unplanned Pregnancy with that Burrito?- Jen Wang, NARAL’s Blog for Choice

HERvotes: Boehner Ups the Threat Against Contraception Coverage- Ms. Blog

Do Republicans Have Sex?- Ellen R. Shaffer, Silver Ribbon Campaign

Major Mainstream Religious Leaders Support White House on Contraceptive Coverage In Health Care Reform- Religious Institute

The Fight Millennials Never Expected: Birth Control- Sarah, Advocates for Youth

An Unholy Alliance Between the Bishops and the Right-Wing Attack Machine- Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, National Women’s Health Network

An Equal & Just World: A Woman’s Right to Control Her Own Reproductive Health- Hannah Sherman, Jewish Women International

Margaret and Helen on the Issues- Margaret and Helen

Religious Freedom in the Crosshairs of Catholic Bishops- Jon O’Brien, Catholics for Choice (Editorial in Concord Monitor)

Co-Pay for Birth Control? Not Under my Conscience Clause- Bettina Hager, National Women’s Political Caucus

Select Media Coverage:  Catholics Supporting Contraceptive Coverage Under the ACA- Complied by Catholics for Choice

Seven Things You (and the Media) Need to Know about Birth Control -Jacqueline M., Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Women Are Watching Blog

Obama’s contraception exemption puts my patients at risk -Dr. Jennifer H. Tang, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health; Letter to the Editor, The Charlotte Observer

Many Uses for Birth Control- Yolanda Evans, MD, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Contraception Mandate Doesn’t Force Use -Bernice Durbin, Letter to the Editor, USA Today

Why All Employers Should Provide Insurance Coverage for Birth Control -Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Delays and Barriers to Accessing BC at Georgetown -Sandra Fluke, Georgetown University Law Students for Reproductive Justice

How to Host a Birth Control Clinic in 3 Easy Steps -Emily T. Wolf, Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice

Obama Administration Ensures a Wide Range of Contraceptive Insurance Coverage, Even at Religiously-Affiliated Institutions -Women’s Law Project

Birth Control and Government: The Right of Refusal Should Belong to Women -Nancy K. Kaufman, National Council of Jewish Women

Through the Looking Glass on  Contraception Coverage -Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families

For the Sisters -Megan Lieff, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Thank you, Obama, For Standing with ALL Women on Important Health Care Issues Lacy Langbecker, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

Birth Control Matters -Nita Chaudhary and Shaunna Thomas, UltraViolet

Would you let someone make your contraceptive decisions for you? Didn’t think so -Mara Gandal-Powers, National Women’s Law Center

?The Highs and Lows on Birth Control Access Coverage -Stephanie Drahan, National Women’s Law Center

Hey Media: It’s about the Health of Women and Families -Leila Abolfazli, National Women’s Law Center

?Women of Childbearing Age: Take Your Talents Elsewhere -Jill C. Morrison, National Women’s Law Center

My Health Is Not a Pork Chop -Dania Palanker, National Women’s Law Center

Single 18 year-old female. Desperately seeking affordable and accessible contraception. – Keely Monroe, National Women’s Health Network

NASW Supports HHS Decision on Women’s Rights -National Association of Social Workers

Fight Against the Catholic Attack on Preventative Healthcare for Women -Mallen Urso, National Women’s Political Caucus

The Impact of a Religious Exemption for Birth Control to University Students – Emily T. Wolf, Fordham Law Students for Reproductive Justice

We’re Not Giving Up! – Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, National Women’s Health Network

Maryland Women Have a Right to Birth Control- Leni Preston, Maryland Women’s Coalition for Health Care

Critics Get It Wrong on Contraceptive Coverage- Marcia D. Greenberger, National Women’s Law Center

One More Time…- Jill Morrison, National Women’s Law Center

Breaking News: Access to No-Cost Birth Control Secured- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center

What Difference does a Co-Pay Make? Plenty!- Cindy Pearson, Raising Women’s Voices

The Greatest Advance for Women in a Generation- Jean Silver-Isenstadt, MD, PhD, National Physicians Alliance

#Fail on Birth Control from The Washington Post- Thomas Dollar, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Response to Washington Post Criticism of Contraceptive Coverage- Nancy Keenan, NARAL Pro-Choice America

Take Action: Don’t Let the Catholic Church Deny Birth Control Coverage to Millions

by

In August, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a ruling requiringall insurers to cover contraception without a co-pay starting next year. Good news for women, right? So it’s no surprise that those who have been pushing woman-unfriendly reproductive policy–namely the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops–are lobbying for exemptions. They want leeway not only to refuse to cover birth control for Catholic Church employees (which they are already free to do), but also to allow religiously-affiliated hospitals, charitable organizations, elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities to refuse to cover birth control at no cost in their students and employee insurance plans.

One of the things that really galls about this–aside of course from the absurdity of denying women the right to make their own reproductive decisions–is that birth control is not just a contraceptive: The drug is used to treat a variety of conditions, from acne to cramps to migraines. In fact, just this week the Guttmacher Institute released a new report showing that women take the pill for a number of reasons not related to sex:

The study—based on U.S government data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG)—revealed that after pregnancy prevention (86%), the most common reasons women use the pill include reducing cramps or menstrual pain (31%); menstrual regulation, which for some women may help prevent migraines and other painful “side effects” of menstruation (28%); treatment of acne (14%); and treatment of endometriosis (4%). Additionally, it found that some 762,000 women who have never had sex use the pill, and they do so almost exclusively (99%) for noncontraceptive reasons.

So not only does the Catholic Church want to control women’s sex lives and reproduction, but they also want to make sure we continue to suffer from treatable pain and discomfort. I suppose in the minds of Catholic leaders, we just wouldn’t be women without that serpent biting at our heels. Catholic women, however, don’t seem to  agree: 77 percent of those surveyed support birth control with no copay.

Let’s not take this lying down: Please tell President Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius not to give in to demands from the Conference of Catholic Bishops that would deny no-copay birth control coverage to millions of women.

Photo from Flickr user Starbooze under Creative Commons 2.0.

Cross posted from the Ms. Magazine blog