The Republicans’ new healthcare plan — their answer to the question of, “How do you solve a problem like Obamacare?” — would disproportionately affect the poor, the elderly, and the unemployed. But if you think health insurance isn’t a women's issue too, think again.
Consider this: In 2009, the year before Obamacare went into effect, the most popular insurance programs charged a woman more for her coverage than a man — just for being a woman. According to an analysis from the National Women’s Law Center, 25-year-old women were charged up to 84% more for individual coverage than 25-year-old men. Obamacare shut that discrepancy down quick.
Under the proposed Republican plan, insurers would still have to cover preventative services like birth control, STI screenings, well-woman visits, and domestic violence screenings at no additional cost. But there are several other aspects that would jack up medical costs for women, and make health care all around harder to access.
First of all, the plan would shutter abortion clinics.
The Republican plan would deny federal funding to any institution that performs abortions, except in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life. That means it would — you guessed it — defund Planned Parenthood.
The organization, which receives some 40% of its funding from the federal government, provides services like contraception, cancer screening, and STI tests. And yes, it also provides abortions. Without federal funding, it would likely have to shutter many of its clinics — denying all of these services to its patients (most of whom, by the way, have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.)
It bears repeating that federal dollars already cannot fund abortions. The 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds — and federally funded insurance programs — from going toward abortions. Defunding clinics that provide abortions, then, doesn’t stop federal money from being spent on abortions — it just penalizes clinics that provide crucial health services.
The plan would also make abortion coverage more expensive.
The crux of this new healthcare strategy is providing people tax credits with which to buy insurance. But the plan also bans these tax credits from being used on plans that cover abortions. That means women who want abortion coverage would have to forgo their tax credit, and find special insurance plans that do cover abortion.
If abortion coverage was both more expensive and more difficult to obtain, reproductive rights advocates fear women would abandon it altogether.
At the same time, the plan would make having a baby more expensive, too.
If passed, the bill would end a rule that requires insurance companies to cover maternity care. That means insurance companies could decide to stop covering things like labor, delivery, and newborn care. Without insurance, that makes pregnancy a huge expense: The average hospital birth cost $18,329 out of pocket in 2010.
Women who wanted their pregnancies covered would have to buy separate insurance policies, or add-ons to their current policies, jacking up their prices.
Ultimately, the Republican’s healthcare plan would make both ending a pregnancy and carrying one to term more expensive.
Come on, America. We can do better.