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Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:40 am

Millions of women benefit from Affordable Care Act

The Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act marks a critical victory for women’s health, and the health of all Americans. Because of this landmark decision, millions of women and families will continue to have access to affordable, quality health care – many of whom previously had inadequate coverage or no coverage at all.

At Planned Parenthood of Illinois, we understand how this law will have an unprecedented effect on women’s health. The law guarantees women direct access to OB/GYN providers without referrals, and ends discriminatory practices against women, such as charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for “pre-existing conditions.” And in just six weeks, women will gain access to birth control without a co-pay – which will have a tremendous economic impact on already stretched family budgets.

Since August 2010, more than 45 million women have already received full coverage for preventive health screenings, including mammograms and Pap tests. Now with this ruling, 17 million more women will have access to health insurance for the first time. And millions more young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans, just like the 3.1 million young adults who have done so since September 2010.

In Illinois alone, 469,469 women of reproductive age will now gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act by 2014.

The increased access to preventive health care and family planning under the Affordable Care Act provides immeasurable economic value to women, families and society. Not only does every dollar invested in federal family planning save taxpayers and families nearly $4, but unintended pregnancies are already costing U.S. taxpayers $11 billion a year.

Women realize that health and wellness are key to prosperity and independence. In times of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to stay healthy. For women, birth control isn’t a political or social issue – it’s basic health care and an economic concern. The money – up to $600 on average – that women will save on birth control each year is equal to five weeks of groceries for a family of four, nine tanks of gas in a minivan, or one semester of college textbooks.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois health centers already provide basic health care to nearly 75,000 patients every year, and to 3,321 patients in Springfield alone. Because this landmark law has been upheld, we know we’ll be able to do even more for the communities we serve in the months and years ahead.

Carole R. Brite is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. 
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