What is universal health care? Universal Healthcare is the idea that all people who are in need of health services can have access to them whenever and wherever they need them, without financial hardship (WHO). The idea of Universal Healthcare within the United States has always been a catalyst for political debates. What many people fail to realize is that it benefits every person, in its unique ways obviously, and will help them tackle life. Universal Healthcare especially benefits women in instances where private insurance and healthcare cannot, for example in sexual and reproductive health services.
Universal healthcare is a major necessity when it comes to sexual and reproductive health. Around the world and in the past we have seen that as universal healthcare systems are implemented, sexual and reproductive health (something that largely affects women across the world) education and services steadily improve. However, there are still debates in the United States that keep healthcare of that kind from progressing and moving forward.
Well, what is sexual and reproductive health? According to the World Health Organization, reproductive health is defined as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes” (WHO). Having good reproductive and sexual health means that people have the ability to have “a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so” (WHO).
What qualifies as sexual and reproductive health? Underneath this umbrella term, you can find “contraception; safe abortion and post-abortion care; antenatal, delivery, and postnatal care; prevention and treatment of infertility, reproductive tract infections, sexually transmissible infections, including HIV, and reproductive cancers; and services to address gender-based violence”(International Women's Health Coalition). Currently, there are restrictions enacted within many different programs of private health insurance that take away access to this type of care, which successfully robs women of their right to decent healthcare.
There have been some strides towards Universal Healthcare. The Obama Administration passed the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care or the ACA) on March 23, 2010, which made some difference in the way we arrange our healthcare. It was found that “The ACA also made significant strides in prohibiting discrimination in the health care system, particularly against women and LGBTQ people, ultimately increasing access to reproductive health services” (Allsbrook and Osub). This act was part of a comprehensive health care reform law that was later amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act on March 30, 2010. While this act has created some progress, we cannot stop until we have universal health care. It will benefit every single person who has it and will ultimately change the face of healthcare for the better. Everyone, especially women, will gain access to the resources they need to thrive and succeed without worrying about their personal health as much.
Allsbrook, Jamille Fields, and Osub Ahmed. “Medicare Extra: A Tool To Improve Reproductive Health Care Access.” Center for American Progress, 23 July 2020, 9:04 am, www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/reports/2020/07/23/488017/medicare-extra-tool-improve-reproductive-health-care-access/
Jackson-Leslie, Llenda. Women's Health Matters: Getting to Universal Coverage, 17 Dec. 2019, www.nationalpartnership.org/our-impact/news-room/press-statements/womens-health-matters.html
Mason, Elizabeth, et al. “Universal Health Coverage Provisions for Women, Children and Adolescents.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 30 Jan. 2020, www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/98/2/19-249474/en/
Quick, Jonathan, et al. “Improving Women's Health through Universal Health Coverage.” PLoS Medicine, Public Library of Science, 6 Jan. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3882205/
“UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE: Womeningh: Gender: UHC.” Womeningh, 23 Sept. 2019, www.womeningh.org/uhc-gender
“Universal Health Coverage for Women and Girls.” International Women's Health Coalition, 5 Apr. 2019, iwhc.org/resources/uhc-women-and-girls/