This time of year, it’s impossible to avoid the wall-to-wall displays of colorful Easter candy, including Peeps of every color (those sugar coated marshmallow chicks and bunnies). I can’t look at Peeps without smiling, recalling one of my mentors, an actor and teacher at a theater near where I grew up who nearly lived on sweets. Peeps were among her favorites. She was cheerful and comforting and played a big role in supporting my emerging self-confidence and drive for social justice work.
When I went home to attend her funeral in 2009, the sense of loss I felt was compounded by the tragedy that surrounded her death. She had delayed seeking health care when she first thought something was wrong, because it was just too expensive. Though she was a unique spirit, it turned out that my mentor couldn’t buck some troubling trends — that women are more likely than men to forgo needed health care, including preventive care, due to cost; that women report more difficulty paying medical bills than men; and that women are more likely than men to be underinsured. It also turned out that she was right when she suspected something was wrong. But, since she couldn’t afford care, she ignored the signs of colon cancer, which took her life in just about a year. She was only 46 years old.
Her story, through dramatic (she was a drama teacher, after all), is not uncommon. Yet, it is just one example of why ensuring that every individual can access health care when they need it — not just when it fits a constrained budget — is so critical. And, it’s one of the many reasons why I support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 2010 health care reform law which will have its second anniversary on March 23.
Thanks to the ACA, millions of women now have, or will soon gain access to preventive care without added cost. It’s going to be easier for women to get the care they need when they need it. Mammograms, Pap tests, well-woman visits, cancer screenings, contraceptives, and even domestic violence screenings will be more affordable, and part of the regular set of services women can draw upon to stay healthy.
Thanks to the ACA, a women won’t be charged more for her insurance simply for being a woman, nor will she be subjected to annual or lifetime limits on the coverage she can use. This alone is a huge benefit to the many women who find themselves or their families fighting serious illness or chronic conditions. No longer will women, children, or members of their families be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The list of benefits from this new law goes on, and each will have a positive impact on real people like me, like my mentor’s family — and for people like you. Yet, even as we celebrate these benefits, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments next week from opponents of the ACA who seek to take these lifesaving advances away from women and their families.
To celebrate the key benefits and consumer protections provided by the ACA — and to advocate for its long future — NCJW has started a “photo petition” designed to help you show your support for this great advance for women, children, and families. I support the health care law because no woman should have to trade her health for her economic security and because leveling the playing field and making care more accessible was — and is — the right thing to do. Were she here, I know my friend and mentor would agree.
Join us and share why you support the health care law! Submit your own image – your voice can make all the difference.
This post is part of the #HERVotes blog carnival. #HERvotes, a multi-organization campaign launched in August 2011, advocates women using our voices and votes to stop the attacks on the women’s movement’s major advances, many of which are at risk in the next election. Read more from our partner organizations:
Why We Need the Affordable Care Act – Julie Seger, AAUW
Healthcare Stories the Supreme Court Needs to Read – Nancy Keenan, NARAL
Today’s Story on How Health Reform Helps Women – NARAL’s Blog for Choice
HERvotes Blog Carnival: Gen Y Women Benefit from the Affordable Health Care Act – Business and Professional Women’s Foundation
Celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act! – Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, MomsRising
2 Year Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act – What’s In It for Young People? – Sarah Audelo, Advocates for Youth
The Affordable Care Act and Women’s Health – National Association of Social Workers
Health Reform: Winning for Women – Tara Mancini, WIN’s Women’s Health Policy Network
Two Years Later, Reflections on the Landmark Health Care Law – Miri Cypers, Jewish Women International
Real Stories on Why Health-Care Reform Helps Women – Thomas Dollar, NARAL Pro-Choice America