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ACA repeal could greatly impact women’s health

Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, there has been a steady drop in the probability that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed by the end of April. A recent Washington Post poll shows a 35 percent chance of that happening. However, this does not quell the fears raised by what a repeal could mean.

Under the Affordable Care Act, women’s preventive health care, namely mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and prenatal care is covered. If it is repealed, the likelihood of women continuing those preventive care options decreases. Deanna Teoh, M.D.,  assistant professor in the Medical School, says people will prioritize if put in the financial position to choose between preventive care and for example, everyday expenses like food, transportation and other health care needs. But Teoh insists preventive care is not something that should fall to the way-side.

“Potentially we are preventing diseases, and if we stop screening, mortality rates could sky-rocket,” explained Teoh.

Cancer is already one of the top killers globally. In the United States alone, nearly 150 women out of 100,000 women will die from cancer.

Access to contraception would also be in jeopardy. That fear is even causing some women to “stock up” on birth-control supplies. With reduced access to contraceptives, unplanned pregnancies may increase. Currently, 49% of pregnancies are unintended. The teen pregnancy rate is substantially higher in the United States than in other nations, and racial disparities in teen birth rates are obvious. However, starting in 2014, we saw a dramatic decrease in teen pregnancies, reaching a historic low of less than 25 young women out of 1,000, ages 15-19.

There are other potentially unnerving situations which could unfold in the future, she explained, including in the workforce and in home-care. For example, if a woman is sick but doesn’t get treated, we lose her contributions at work, and if she is a mother, her children are also at risk of not being cared for properly.  Additionally, lack of access to prenatal care jeopardizes the health of women and the unborn child she is carrying.

“We all end up taking care of each other one way or another, through covering the missing workforce, caring for others’ children, or paying for their health care indirectly through taxes,” said Teoh.

More than that, Teoh went on to point that some people don’t realize just how many people will be affected if the ACA is repealed.

“You can be very educated, very skilled, and still not have insurance. Think of everyone who is self-employed, small business owners, the writers, artists and actors in our communities,” she said. “One way or another it would affect all of us, even those with insurance.”

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