Donald Trump ran on a platform to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and select judges to the Supreme Court that would challenge the Roe v. Wade decision — a message that is now sending shockwaves through the healthcare community as nonprofits, medical providers, healthcare companies and average Americans try to prepare for major changes to a complex, yet essential, industry.
As he tones back his rhetoric on those issues post-election, many people (both men and women) are now looking for guidance on how President-Elect Trump’s administration will impact women’s health issues for the next four (or perhaps eight) years.
Some organizations are already seeing the impact of Trump’s platform, even before he takes office. In Florida, the Florida Community Health Action Information Network (CHAIN), a health advocacy organization in the state, is now letting go of employees because of funding issues due to the hazy future of Obamacare.
What will Trump’s policy changes actually entail and how can you prepare yourself financially? It’s a moving issue in the run-up to the President-Elect’s January inauguration, but here are some of the details you need to know.
Obamacare & Women’s Health
According to estimates by the Obama administration, 45 million women took advantage of the new benefits that were guaranteed under the law. These procedures included Pap smears, mammograms, well-baby care, gestational diabetes screening and even contraception. Before the Affordable Care Act, more than half of women were forgoing these procedures, putting their health at risk, with 33% of women forgoing basic necessities to pay for this healthcare.
If Obamacare is overturned in its entirety, insurance companies will again be free to deny coverage to women who are not in perfect health. This could bring back the number of women who are too financially strapped to go to the doctor to pre-ACA numbers. In its 2009 “Power of Prevention” white paper, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention cited some of the examples of how preventive care for women can save lives: “For women aged 40 years or older, mammograms every 12–33 months significantly reduce mortality from breast cancer. For women who have been sexually active and have a cervix, screening with a Pap test reduces incidence of, and mortality from, cervical cancer. Females aged 11–26 years can help prevent cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers by getting the HPV vaccine.”
In a Federal Reserve survey, more than one in three Americans cited a medical emergency for themselves or a family member as an economic hardship they had to endure in 2015. Healthcare and money are inextricably linked, with many Americans using things like unsecured credit cards to fund medical expenses.
Trump needs 60 votes in the Senate to completely repeal Obamacare, which he will likely be short on, even with a Republican majority in the Congress. However, Trump can create some competition for the ACA by making it easier for insurance transactions to take place outside of the federal exchange. Some proposed benefits include tax breaks on personal tax returns for insurance consumers and a license for insurers to sell products across state lines more easily.
Trump, the Supreme Court & Roe v. Wade
It is highly likely that Donald Trump will have at least two Supreme Court appointments through his first term, and possibly more if he is re-elected. However, two appointments is enough to tip the opinion of the Court in favor of repealing Roe v. Wade, as the opinion of the judges that are staying are set in stone.
The repeal of the major precedent protecting the right of women to have an abortion in the U.S. could have unprecedented effects on women’s health. Poor women already have limited access because of financial constraints, and overturning Roe v. Wade could impact middle-class and even wealthy women in a similar way.
Trump has also said he would defund Planned Parenthood and will most likely end the provisions of the ACA that require insurance companies to provide contraception and intrauterine devices. Once this precedent is set, it is highly likely that it will remain the law of the land for decades due to the lifelong terms of Supreme Court justices.
What You Can Do About Reforms During the Trump Presidency
The secret to protecting your health is to act now — don’t wait for policies to change before you start preparing your health coverage and savings.
Regardless of how much Trump changes the current state of healthcare, the fact is that changes are coming. People will be much more responsible for their healthcare, and you need the financial leverage to make this happen.
By Kali Geldis
Kali Geldis is Credit.com’s Editorial Director. She writes about a wide range of personal finance and credit topics. She previously ran MainStreet, the personal finance website powered by TheStreet. She has also worked for The Wall Street Journal as a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern and at The Huntington Herald-Dispatch as a reporter.