Access to Insurance and Benefits Improved Overall
The agency and clinic staff (collectively referred to here as family planning providers) and women in our study reported a number of improvements in access to care for low-income women since health care reform, though participants also identified continuing challenges. We have written elsewhere about these findings (Dennis et al. 2012; Mcintosh, Tsikitas, and Dennis 2012) and briefly outline the successes and challenges for individuals eligible for insurance below.
Participants reported that overall access to insurance has increased, subsequently increasing access to both preventive and emergency health care services. Women in the focus groups reported increases in access to insurance coverage that they said made it easier for them to visit a range of health care providers. Many women said they were “grateful” to have insurance, which they considered a “lifesaver” that gave them “peace of mind.” The importance of having insurance was articulated by one Lawrence woman who stated, “That worries everyone in the world because insurance is everything. People without insurance don't have a life. You get sick. What are you going to do?”
Likewise, family planning providers reported seeing similar increases in access to insurance that resulted in expanded access to services among their clients. As one family planning administrator said:
I think [health care reform] has probably increased access because when people have health care, they'll use it. Whereas a lot of people do not want to come in for something and ask for it for free, even if it is available for free .... But if they can come in and they have a card and they know that they are covered then they feel better about it .... They feel like they are contributing so it is OK for them to ask for services.