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4 Ways COVID-19 Is Impacting Women & Women’s Health Policies

COVID-19 impact on women’s health

We all know the importance of hand-washing and staying inside to stop the spread of the global pandemic. Meanwhile, in the United States, four women’s health problems have emerged as the country experiences the realities of living in the time of coronavirus:

  • Tax breaks on menstrual products
  • The rise of telemedicine for routine care of pregnant women
  • The lack of access for women who seek to terminate unwanted pregnancies using medication
  • Numerous states declared that abortions re not essential medical procedures, and the closure of clinics that perform abortions in 6 states

Also Read: 3 Best Telemedicine Apps You Must Use

Here are four significant ways how the coronavirus outbreak is shaping the lives of American women.

Use Pre-Tax Dollars To Pay For Period Products

Recently, legislators signed $2 trillion to aid American citizens who experienced economic loss during the coronavirus crisis. It will provide money to people who face certain income thresholds, thus giving a bit of relief to some in light of job loss, and help people who are trying to repay student loans or make contributions to retirement funds, among various other measures built for helping stimulate the economy.

One aspect of the new plan: Items such as menstrual pads, tampons, and period or menstrual cups can be paid for with pre-tax dollars. People with a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) can set aside some funds to pay for particular medical items. For the first time in history, menstruation products are a part of these items.

This is indeed a positive outcome. The relief package mentions “menstrual products,” and the wording leaves open the possible interpretation that it applies to related products, including period-specific underwear.

Also Read: Menopause: Here’s Everything You Must Know

Weiss-Wolf has been persuading for period reform for many years. While not every woman can access an HSA or FSA plan, the designation itself is a vital acknowledgment to make sure that there are feasibility and accessibility for menstrual products and that they are a medical necessity. The concept of what is necessary has been turned on its head today.
Telemedicine Visits Are Now Covered By Numerous Health Insurers, Including Prenatal Care
Since early to mid-March, various health insurers started paying for virtual visits between patients & healthcare providers, using FaceTime, Skype, and other everyday communication mediums to provide telehealth visits.

The ob-gyn department at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor has recently changed how pregnant women are seen during the coronavirus era. In order to limit potential exposures, the department has cut down one-to-one visits as well as in-person care and replaced them with virtual prenatal care.

The center even gave suggestions for blood pressure monitoring machines to buy for at-home use and provided links of certain apps to help monitor fetal heartbeat rates.

Various Other aspects of prenatal care including weight gain, can also be handled through video visits. Pregnant women are advised to check with their ob-gyns or other healthcare professionals.

Abortion Pills Restriction Remains

Normally, people who wish to terminate early-term pregnancies can consider a medication known as mifepristone. This medication can be prescribed using telemedicine, however, patients still require to go to a clinic, medical office, or hospital to get it, according to a recent report. This implies patients cannot acquire the drug at their homes, as per the United States Food and Drug Administration’s rules for the use of the drug, mentioned under its Risk Evaluation & Mitigation Strategy.

Also Read: Why A “One-to-Many” Telehealth Model Is Essential Today?

With such limitations in place, women willing to abort are forced to leave the comfort of their homes and connect with others while traveling to and from a clinic, thus risking possible COVID-19 transmission en route and at the clinic itself.

There are various other limitations as well. They exist in the 18 states that need a healthcare provider to be in the room when the medication is taken.

According to several physicians, the only solution to this problem is the telemedicine provision of medication abortion.

Banning Abortion In Multiple States

Governors & attorneys general in Ohio, Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Alabama have closed abortion clinics in their states. They recently claimed it as a nonessential service, though various ongoing lawsuits have tried to block these measures.

The effort is an example of how “anti-abortion politicians, as well as activists, are shamelessly exploiting the current pandemic to push ideological agendas & further enshrine discrimination and inequity in the healthcare system.

If you made it till here, congratulations! We hope this blog helped you to get a clear picture of how the coronavirus crisis is affecting both women and women’s health policies.

Also Read: Maternity Insurance Coverage

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Insurance

Health Insurance Lost? Here’s What You Should Do! 

Health Insurance Lost

There may be people out there who lost their job-related health insurance amid the COVID-19 crisis. If you are also one of them, then you should take action as quickly as possible.

Numerous options have time-limited deadlines, ranging from 30 to 60 days from the loss of coverage, hence it is important to promptly secure the documents, including proof of job & health insurance loss, which are usually required while applying for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Medicaid. And since over 16 million people have applied for unemployment insurance lately, many will also be trying to acquire health insurance.

Also Read: Doctors Not Accepting Your Medicare? Here’s What You Can Do!

So, if you experience loss of income as well as have been paying for your own insurance under the ACA, then you have an option to revise your estimated yearly income & perhaps acquire a subsidy as well as lower premiums.

Here’s What The Cares Act Offers

Federal & state responses to the pandemic crisis can have only a fixed effect on individual healthcare expenses

The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion package signed into law on March 27, 2020, needs health insurers to provide coverage for COVID-19 testing (and a vaccine when it becomes available) without cost-sharing (deductibles, copays). Also, it expands insurance coverage for telehealth visits. 

The cost of total treatment for COVID-19 is not covered but if you visit an emergency room or need hospitalization, coronavirus care may be really expensive. 

An admission for pneumonia (which is a common complication of coronavirus) costs just under $10,000 with no complications, and up to $20,292 with main complications or comorbidity. 

Also, people with employer-based health insurance usually face more than $1,300 in out-of-pocket costs. A few insurance companies including Aetna, announced that until June 1, 2020, most of its customers were not supposed to pay copayments as well as other forms of cost-sharing for coronavirus care.

Recently, the White House declared that it would utilize money in the CARES Act to reimburse hospitals for coronavirus care for almost 28 million non-elderly American citizens who are uninsured. Here, the fear is that uninsured people are hesitant to get checked if they feel ill that can result in a greater spread of the infection. The secretary of Health & Human Services Alex Azar said hospitals will be reimbursed at Medicare rates as well as those who accepted funds will be barred from billing the patients involved. 

The total expenses of treatment for non-virus related medical care are, of course, not impacted. A person may still require health insurance to cover doctor, hospital, and prescription drug expenses.

Also Read: How You Can Save Money On Drugs

Here’s how if you have recently lost job-based insurance can acquire insurance now. 

Coordinate With The Employer

The whole situation is emerging rapidly. A few companies including Macy’s, are still paying health insurance for furloughed employees. And others are providing to subsidize COBRA coverage for a limited period. 

The CARES Act has numerous provisions to incentivize employers to handle their employees including employee retention credits. Hence, stay connected to know about the plans of your company. Also, stay in touch with your former employer to acquire the documents you require to verify your dismissal as well as the loss of health insurance. 

Join the Family Member’s Policy 

In case, your spouse or parents (if you are under 26 years old) own a health insurance policy, then you should probably consider joining it during the 30 days after you lose your health insurance coverage. Often this involves additional premium expenses for your spouse or parents, however, will probably be among the least expensive options for replacement coverage for you. 

Sign Up For Medicaid 

Medicaid is considered the nation’s largest health insurer. It provides enrollees health insurance that is, on most measures, as good as (and often better than) private coverage. Based on where a person lives in, Medicaid can be an available, low-cost option, or let’s say “impossibly difficult to get”. The exceptional route to check Medicaid eligibility is to visit Medicaid.org and just select your state. 

Also Read: Difference Between Medicare And Medicaid

Purchase Short-Term Health Insurance 

If you are unable to purchase coverage through a special enrollment period or other means, then short-term health insurance is worth considering. 

These policies are directly purchased from insurance firms as well as brokers in states where they are available. All you need to do is search “limited duration health insurance” along with your state name will show a list of possible organizations. 

Short-term insurance can be even kept for up to one year. And if you plan to use short-term insurance as a bridge, then be careful about setting an end date. 

Categories
Health

Why A “One-to-Many” Telehealth Model Is Essential Today?

Telehealth

Health care is one of a few services that need individuals to have one-on-one or face-to-face interaction to acquire clear and easy access. Lately, more and more consumers have come forward, questioning this reality.

It is worth mentioning that the whole COVID-19 pandemic has made one thing clear, that telemedicine is a public health necessity. Why? With a number of annual checkups as well as elective events postponed, more patients are acquiring medical support and care virtually often via video calls or phone calls. 

The main reason why people are interacting virtually is that it not only prevents the spread of coronavirus but also keeps patients safe at home and away from hospitals where there is a high risk of infections. Both consumers and hospital staff are considering the telehealth model. 

Let’s dig deeper to know why people are embracing this whole new model of care.

Better Experience

Patients have been reporting high satisfaction with telehealth. According to a recent study, 97 percent of patients reported satisfaction after taking an online telehealth encounter. According to them, it provided them with convenient after-hours care options as well as reduced wait times and commuting time. Plus, telehealth also saves a large chunk of money as there are no traditional care settings.

This high satisfaction not only improves overall experience but also provides a great affinity to the health system.

Telehealth can benefit an existing patient more as he or she can reach out to his or her doctor in just a few clicks.

Telehealth

Cut Down Hospital Admission Rates

We all know the high rate of hospital readmission. For many people the huge hospital cost is nothing less than a nightmare. In this case, telehealth is a great way to cut down admission rates as it allows doctors, pharmacists, and even care managers to connect to patients through a screen. 

In addition to this, follow-up care as well as care management for habitually ill/post-surgical patients can be carried out more efficiently.

Help Medical Providers & Specialists

In the present time, most of the health systems have numerous campuses as well as hospitals. As a result, specialists and health providers are distributed throughout various locations and regions.

Telehealth allows these hospitals to distribute their staff and offer access to more specialists. This helps patients to reach out to a doctor they want to consult. The best part of this is of course no appointment scheduling, no waiting as well as longer-term coordination.

Plus, telehealth offers smooth provider-to-provider communication. This way doctors can easily share information, resulting in care that is more coordinated and cost-effective. Finally, with telehealth, multi-disciplinary teams can more easily be assembled to care for a single patient as well as a panel of patients.

Read More: HOW MUCH THE AVERAGE AMERICAN SPENDS ON HEALTH CARE?

More Preventative Outreach

Due to more patients covered under alternative or value-based reimbursement measures, most hospitals are required to choose methods to engage as well as handle chronically ill patients.  

When preventable admissions are reduced, it automatically helps hospitals to save a lot of money. According to a study, between 2005 to 2010 there was a decent decrease in the number of preventable hospital admissions. This indeed saved the hospital expenses of more than $1 billion.

Talking about telehealth, it facilitates reliable, smooth constant monitoring for people who are at-risk for hospitalization, making sure that every patient is as healthy as possible.

Enhance Clinical Outcomes

A patient who participates in his or her care has significantly acquired better outcomes. In that case, telehealth is surely an efficient tool to help patients comply with medication. 

Patients not only take post-discharge instructions more seriously but telehealth also allows people to effortlessly connect with their physicians as well as caregivers.

Bottom Line!!!

So, we have come to the end of this blog. The current crisis situation is certainly opening new doors and ways, helping people to adapt to new changes more easily. Out of all, one takeaway has also been the importance of telehealth, for sure. But in order to make it sustainable, every individual requires a combination of synchronous & asynchronous monitoring tools to help patients to target communication.

Let’s hope more health care providers integrate this kind of model that will provide access at scale, thus saving lives.