There is a reason why the healthcare industry in the United States has been seeing a wide range of reforms and why Senator Bernie Sanders along with his many supporters have sought to pass universal healthcare coverage. President Barack Obama has spent years defending the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act while many opponents have attempted to repeal the landmark healthcare law.
Lately, the health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act have seen some turbulence as a number of major health payers have announced their plans to drop out of the exchanges next year. This would limit the number of health plans available to consumers in the public marketplace.
Essentially, this points at the fact that health insurance companies may be creating an environment, regardless of whether or not healthcare reform has taken place, that does not offer substantial access to medical care for American citizens. This is why many Sanders supporters are urging the country’s leaders to create universal healthcare coverage regulated by the government instead of private companies.
The Commonwealth Fund and the National Women’s Law Center released a study outlining how there are a number of important medical services left out of most health plans analyzed despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act has brought a number of provisions to ensure exclusion of healthcare access is reduced.
The researchers analyzed results from 109 different health plans across 16 states. The report found six specific services that are often left out of health plans today. These services specifically impact women’s health including breast cancer screenings, genetic testing, and even cancer maintenance therapies.
The six services outlined in the report are: “treatment of conditions resulting from non-covered services, maintenance therapy, genetic testing, fetal reduction surgery, treatment of self-inflicted conditions, and preventive services not covered by law.”
National Public Radio gave some examples of what type of care may not be covered based on the study. This may include not covering the costs of treating an infection due to a cosmetic surgery. Genetic testing for some forms of breast cancer genetic mutations may not be covered financially. Additionally, maintenance therapy to keep a person from relapse of a particular cancer is often not covered while patients who undergo other serious disorders such as a suicide attempt may be left paying out-of-pocket for medical care.
“We wanted to highlight issues that would have a particular impact on women as well as show how broad some of the exclusions are,” Dania Palanker, who co-authored the study, told the news source.
Another example is a woman who may have found out she is genetically predisposed to breast cancer but her health insurance does not cover more frequent screenings.
“We are in this strange scenario where insurers are paying for the testing and then not paying for the breast MRIs or prophylactic mastectomies,” Lisa Schlager, vice president of community affairs and public policy at Force, told NPR.
All of these details from the study show the importance of moving the healthcare industry forward in reform and potentially bringing more pressure on the federal government to create universal healthcare coverage for every American citizen.