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American women are being screwed by health care

This is one of those moments that make me want to face-palm, or scream as loud as I can in hopes that someone, someone with the ability to actually listen and then act, will hear me.

And then I thank god that I live in Canada. This country may not be perfect — it absolutely has its own set of problems — but at least I don’t have to be scared of going to the doctor.

Thursday, the Republicans passed a health care bill to replace Obamacare. The bill passed by a slight margin, 217-213. This is being hailed as a big success for the Trump government, who was unable to pass the first version of the health care bill. But while the government may be laughing and smiling at their success, a lot of people in the United States are going to get screwed, particularly women.

The full version of the American Health Care Act hasn’t been made public yet, and has not been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office, so there is no way to know what economic impact

There was also an amendment made by Republican Tom MacArthur of New Jersey that would allow states to opt out of “essential health benefits” in order to opt their own.

Here are some of the items that are considered “pre-existing” conditions and therefore not coverable under the new health care plan: c-sections, sexual assault, mental illness, domestic violence, depression, acne, asthma, irregular menstruation, pregnancy, diabetes, sex reassignment, cancer, and other debilitating diseases.

So, if you are a woman, suffer from any sort of mental illness, or have been diagnosed with a serious disease — the Trump government just said you didn’t matter. They also just said the state could decide that whatever coverage the bill did have, may not actually be what you will be given (for better or for worse).

As a side note, congress and their families are exempt from many of the effects of the bill; although they claim there will be a revision made to correct that and make further changes.

Of course, as very few members of congress are female, this makes perfect sense.

As I don’t know the exact wording of the bill, I can’t say much else about it. But I can say this: I find the inclusion of pregnancy and mental illness as pre-existing conditions ridiculous, and can’t believe that something like menstrual cycles made it into the list. Honestly, it feels like spite — spite for the protests and women’s marches that have plagued the White House during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days.

The bill will now go to the Senate for revision. Who knows how much this bill will change (or if it even will), but for the sake of American women, I hope it does. While Ontario includes abortion pills and free birth control for women under the age of 25, it looks like the United States is going the opposite route.

And it makes me feel ashamed to be part of the same continent.

What do you think of the new health care bill? Let us know in the comments below!

What’s the true cost of birth control in Ontario?

Women are forced to pay for birth control, feminine hygiene products and take responsibility for their fertility in a way that men are not. As a country that purports democracy and equality, steps need to be taken to ensure women aren’t forced to pay for much-needed products.

Birth control in Canada is expensive and cuts deep into the pockets of young women already trying to make ends meet. Without insurance, birth control has an added cost and women are expected to fork out the cash. One third of women in North America have reported struggling to pay for birth control at one point in their lives.By providing it for a cost in Canada, it questions whether protecting yourself is actually a right of women or is it instead a cash cow for greedy pharmaceutical companies who are actively taking advantage of women.

Birth control is universally covered in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and China, among other countries. Canada does not offer birth control for free or subsidized without insurance coverage, and this limits accessibility for women looking for different options.

 

After comparing prices at three different pharmacies in Toronto, the average prices for the five main types of birth control are astronomical. Mirena, a hormonal IUD offered by Bayer who is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Canada, has an average cost of $416. Though it lasts for five years, finding this type of money as a young woman is unrealistic and often prevents women from accessing this option.  The Nuva ring is the second most expensive option because it must be bought monthly. It is approximately $31 per month and this cost adds up quickly throughout the year to $328. Though oral birth control appears affordable month to month at $20, it adds up to $240 per year making it the third most costly option.

Women who are low-income have alternative options to seek cost-free birth control, but the availability is certainly limited. There are 14 sexual health clinics in Toronto, most with extremely limited drop-in hours. These clinics will help provide low-to-no cost birth control to women who need it, but these clinics have long waitlists and are drop-in only. Oftentimes, these clinics are so busy that there will be over 20 people waiting at the door prior to its opening.

Other options include Family Planning, which offers certain birth control options free and charges a discounted price for others. The IUD is discounted, but still has a price tag on it. If you are looking for an IUD as well, you must phone at the beginning of the month to schedule an appointment that will be at least three weeks later. The other option is the Bay Street Centre for Birth Control, but book quickly. The waitlist to book an appointment at the centre was three months long.

It is clear that Canada has is an issue when it comes to birth control. The act of charging women to protect themselves from getting pregnant is arguably discrimination.  Canada needs to join the other countries that have moved to universally cover the costs of birth control, and grant access for women of all incomes to different types of protection. Only then will I say that Canada is a country that truly supports the rights of women.