Women shouldn't need to choose between getting a Pap smear and paying rent.

By Lauren Mazzo
May 26, 2017

Sooo it's time for your annual checkup at the ob-gyn. (Yayyy, best day of the year, right?!) Well, if you weren't excited now, it might get more stressful if the proposed health care plan becomes a reality.

If the Senate passes the American Health Care Act (AHCA), you could conceivably face an ob-gyn bill of $1,500 (see the breakdown below). That's according to Amino, a consumer health care company that analyzed 9 billion health claims from 225 million Americans to estimate potential out-of-pocket costs under the AHCA.

That $1,500 isn't to deal with any special health issues or complications. It's just for run-of-the-mill female reproductive maintenance-and, mostly, to prevent the surprise appearance of costlier, higher-risk things (childbirth, cancer, etc.). Sound messed up? We know. And that's not all.

Here's how some common preventative costs would break down if the AHCA becomes law, according to Amino. (Although it would vary by state-check the graphs to see the estimates for where you live.)

  • $1,000 for an IUD. Amino's median network rate estimate for a Mirena IUD is $1,111. Skyla IUDs would cost about $983 and Paragard IUDs $1,045.
  • $4,000 for tubal ligation (getting your tubes tied), which about 25 percent of women using contraception choose, particularly when they've decided to stop having children.
  • $250 for a standard mammogram to screen for breast cancer. (Women over age 45 are supposed to get a mammogram every one to two years.)
  • $1,500 for a standard colonoscopy to check for signs of colon cancer. (Recommended every 10 years starting at age 50 if you don't have an increased risk, according to the American Cancer Society.)
  • $200 for a Pap smear to screen for cervical cancer, which is currently recommended at least every three years (or annually, for some women).
  • $300+ for a single HPV vaccine that helps prevent cervical cancer-and you need two to three doses to complete the full schedule of vaccines in order for it to be effective.

While these costs are hefty for anyone to pay out of pocket, they can actually pose a serious financial problem for a significant number of women; 44 percent of American women said they wouldn't be able to afford an unexpected medical bill greater than $100 without going into debt, according to a nationwide survey of 1,000 U.S. adults that Amino conducted with Ipsos in March. The fact that each and every one of these preventative health measures is well over $100 is scary news for the health of the female population. Just think: If the choice is between an optional cancer screening for $200, or groceries for the month, you're probably going to choose groceries. (BTW, everyone should be getting screened for HPV and should get the vaccines, considering more than half the adult population likely has it.)

That being said, if the AHCA is passed, your ob-gyn costs won't automatically skyrocket. It'll depend on your health care plan and the benefits it offers you. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office does estimate, however, that it will leave millions of Americans uninsured. The thing is, under Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), all health insurance plans were required to offer 10 "essential health benefits," including things like emergency and ambulatory services, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse disorder services, and-you guessed it-preventative care. Under the AHCA, states will be able to seek waivers to ignore these regulations, allowing health care companies to dictate the services covered by their plans and to alter premium prices (or even deny coverage) depending on someone's current health status (something Obamacare currently bans). This opens the door for companies to consider things like sexual assault and c-sections to be "pre-existing conditions" and hike up your insurance prices because of it.

So while your health insurance may still cover your IUD in full if the AHCA is passed, there's no guarantee. And if it doesn't (or if you're one of the millions of Americans who would be uninsured) you could be out next month's rent-all because you're trying to be a responsible adult woman and take care of your body.


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