An ACA Repeal May Affect Cancer Screenings in Women

February 2, 2017

No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, no matter who you voted for and putting all things political aside, I think most of us as healthcare providers want only the best for our patients. And the best thing for them is full access to healthcare coverage.

No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, no matter who you voted for and putting all things political aside, I think most of us as healthcare providers want only the best for our patients. And the best thing for them is full access to healthcare coverage.

Both men and women rely on access to certain cancer screenings and preventative measures, such as pap smears, mammograms, pelvic exams, an oral contraceptive pills for those who are at a high risk for developing ovarian and endometrial cancers.1 Additionally, women rely on the use of oral contraceptives to manage other gynecologic conditions like polycystic ovarian disease, endometriosis, amenorrhea, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome, and primary ovarian sufficiency.2

Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of women have been positively impacted by gaining access to healthcare-9.5 million women to be exact, have been since insured and a total of 55 million women benefit from having the access to several supportive and health based services such as:3

• Preventative care
• Well-woman exams
• Breastfeeding support
• Breastfeeding supplies
• Birth control
• Domestic violence screening and counseling
• Sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening and treatment

When it comes to access to care, Planned Parenthood services around 5 million men, women, and adolescents. Approximately 97% of those serviced seek access to healthcare like cancer screenings, STD treatment and testing, and birth control at one of its 650 national locations. This is important for those who do not have access to any other form of preventative health and cancer screening.4

According to Planned Parenthoods 2014-2015 Annual Report, they provided thousands of cancer screening tests and treatments including:5

• Pap smears: 271,539
• Breast exams: 363,803
• Early detection of cancer/abnormal findings: 71,717
• Colposcopy: 20,736
• LEEP: 1,621
• Cryotherapy: 446
• HPV Vaccines: 24,063

Note: Combined with other medical procedures and services, Planned Parenthood performed 9,455,582 procedures.

While there is no perfect healthcare plan, be it private, ACA coverage, or community-based programs, defunding these two programs will potentially have life-threatening effects on millions of men and women, with devastating effects nationally. Hopefully, while the discussion remains about funding versus repeal, a proper and comprehensive alternative option will be in place both during and after the transition.

References:

1. National Cancer Institute. Oral Contraceptives and Cancer Risk. 2012 Mar 21.
2. Center for Young Women’s Health: Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and the Division of Gynecology at Boston Children’s Hospital. Medical Uses of the Birth Control Pill. 2016 Jun 2.
3. Department of Health & Human Services. Health Insurance Coverage and the Affordable Care Act. 2010–2016. 2016 Mar 3.
4. Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood at a Glance. 2017.
5. Planned Parenthood. 2014–2015 Annual Report. 2015 Jun 30.