Women's Preventative Healthcare at No Cost

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

Since portions of the Affordable Health Care Act took affect at the beginning of the month, women's preventative health services, like mammograms and wellness checkups, are available at no cost.

"If women are able to get these services, they're going to stay healthier so the cost to Mississippi tax payers is going to be far less," according to Carol Penick, executive director of the Women's Fund of Mississippi.

She says health issues currently plaguing the state can be fought against now that early detection is more accessible and free.

"Many women in Mississippi are living in poverty and even a twenty dollar co-pay is a big deal. There have been lots of studies that show that women who do have to pay for these services often avoid getting them."

Penick says providing contraception and contraceptive counseling are an important element of the act but that requirement isn't getting the same reception with religious institutions.

"It would require us when we write insurance policies for our employees to provide services that are contrary to church teaching," she says.

Mary Woodward, communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, says the diocese believes in affordable care for everyone but is against private health insurance plans being required to include coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives or any drug that could lead to an abortion.

"The church is not trying to ban these things or keep people from getting these things, they're available," Woodward says. "We're just asking that we not be forced to provide things that are contrary to our teaching."

Jamie Bardwell, the director of programs at the Women's Fund says the act helps tackle health concerns as well as the state's teen pregnancy rate by providing funding to school districts with abstinence plus sex education.

"It's really helpful for school districts that are told they have to do something but they have no money to do it when the health department can say we can help you with this and this money comes directly from the affordable care act," Bardwell says.

The state is set to get about a million dollars during the next two years to help cover the program costs.

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