In the midst of the ACA being repealed (and replaced with some crappy zero-care GOP version instead, yes, I said it), a new public opinion survey just came out that illustrates exactly why we, as compassionate humans, want to protect the ACA’s birth control benefit, for the sake of affordable birth control (because isn’t that being responsible?). As of now, the ACA makes it a requirement for insurance plans to cover 100% of out-of-pocket costs for birth control.
The survey comes from PerryUndem–and its main discovery sheds light on just how many women wouldn’t be able to afford birth control without the ACA. About 33% of women voters ages 18-44 reportedly wouldn’t be able to pay more than $10 if they needed prescription birth control. The survey reads:
“One in seven women voters of reproductive age (14%) says they could not pay anything out of pocket for birth control if they needed it ‘today.'”
More than a quarter of women said they could pay between $21-50, while 18% said they could pay $50 or more. And yet, among the possible repeal, 75% of voters (and 85% of women voters) considered birth control preventative health care (which it is, considering it helps prevent pregnancy, among other things like easing the pain of endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome). As of now, birth control costs about $15-50 a month depending on the brand and type.
For many women, not being able to afford their health care as a whole, not just birth control, changes what kinds of jobs they have (as in, freelancers can actually freelance with the ACA and not have to take a job outside of their fields because of insurance)–which illustrates the lack of control women have over their own lives if the ACA is repealed.
The figures in the survey make sense: 77% of women want to keep the ACA birth control benefit, whereas 56% of male voters do–which means 44% somehow think babies grow on trees. The frustrating part of all this is the fact that 52% of men believe they haven’t personally benefitted from women having inexpensive access to birth control. Which is insane and totally privileged. Because, news flash to all men: If you don’t want a kid (or another kid) right now, you best believe you benefit from your wife or girlfriend or partner’s birth control.
Without birth control, women are automatically at a disadvantage to men, both emotionally and financially, since women have to foot the costs in a way that implies men aren’t involved at all. And as far as I understood, people don’t conceive under immaculate conception. If men are allowed to have sex without shame, shouldn’t women? How is taking away women’s health care rights (like access to abortion and maternity leave) not promoting inequality?
Former President Obama echoes this sentiment–and is also working hard to remind Americans how the ACA has protected women, as he released a lengthy statement today about its benefits:
“Thanks to this law, the days when women could be charged more than men and Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage altogether are relics of the past. Seniors have bigger discounts on their prescription drugs. Young people can stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26 years old. And Americans who already had insurance received an upgrade as well – from free preventive care, like mammograms and vaccines, to improvements in the quality of care in hospitals that has averted nearly 100,000 deaths so far.
All of that is thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And all the while, since the law passed, the pace of health care inflation has slowed dramatically. Prices are still rising, just as they have every year for decades – but under this law, they’ve been rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. Families who get coverage through their employer are paying, on average, thousands of dollars less per year than if costs kept rising as fast as they were before the law. And reality continues to discredit the false claim that this law is in a “death spiral,” because while it’s true that some premiums have risen, the vast majority of Marketplace enrollees have experienced no average premium hike at all. And so long as the law is properly administered, this market will remain stable. Likewise, this law is no “job-killer,” because America’s businesses went on a record-breaking streak of job growth in the seven years since I signed it.
So if Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they’re prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that accomplish those goals – that’s something we all should welcome. But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans. That should always be our priority.”
While the current GOP-proposed AHCA doesn’t actually take away the birth control benefit, it decimates women’s health. We can’t breathe eas, especially considering 44% of low-income women get birth control from publicly funded clinics (like Planned Parenthood, which could be defunded). We need to continue to fight, be present, and speak up for ourselves–because clearly, we need to stick together.