Obamacare For SuzyKnew! Readers ASK AN OBGYN

Your friendly doctor

Dear SuzyKnew,

 I hear a lot about how Obamacare helps older people and sick people with large medical bills.  I’m a healthy single woman in my mid thirties.  I have no kids and only see my doctor once or twice a year when I get sick with a bad cold and for my birth control pills.   How does Obamacare help me?  

 Thanks, Sandra

 Dear Sandra,

Obamacare required all insurance companies to dramatically upgrade their plans to include all Americans and to provide preventative healthcare.  There are LOTS of benefits for you.  The US Department of Heath and Human Services (the government agency that implements healthcare policy) has a great info graphic explaining the benefits to women.   Here are a few benefits that will apply to you:

1)    You are entitled to free check ups and screenings for diseases like breast and colorectal cancer, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and HIV.  The idea here is that if a disease is found early, you and you doctor can work together to keep it in check.   If you are able to manage a chronic disease, then you won’t end up in the hospital.  Makes sense, right?

2)    I’m guessing that even if you had great insurance before, you were still paying for your birth control pills.   Birth control can be very expensive, costing the average women $600/year. Under Obamacare, all FDA-approved birth control methods are available without co-pays. This includes pills, birth control shots, implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and sterilization procedures. (See About.com Contraception to see which birth control option may fit your lifestyle/health condition)

3)    Down the road, if you do decide to have a baby, you will be covered.   Many older plans offered maternity benefits as an expensive add on. Young women found themselves in a catch 22- Do I pay for maternity benefits before I need them? But what if I get pregnant and don’t have coverage?  Too often this resulted in delayed care.  The new law solves this problem by providing maternity coverage as an essential benefit.  And if you do become a mom, Obamacare covers the costs of breastfeeding equipment without a copay, and requires your workplace to offer break time and a nice place (not a bathroom) to pump breast milk.

4)    Obamacare increases coverage for mental health, social work and substance abuse services.   These vary by individual plan, so if you are currently under the care of a mental health counselor or doctor, you will want to look at this carefully when choosing your new plan.   Some good basics are covered, but not as comprehensively as primary medical care.

This is all very good news for our country, and especially for American women.   Many experts and leaders have said that Obamacare is the single greatest achievement for women’s healthcare in their lifetimes.   Take good care, and go see your doctor to get all the preventative care services you now have access to!

 A Note to our Readers: This question is most  relevant to SuzyKnew’s readers in the United States where historic healthcare legislation is being implemented.   Known as “Obamacare”, after President Obama, this law provides essential services to improve the health of all Americans.  For an overview see www.whitehouse.gov