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Letter to the Editor: Access to family planning isn't the same as access to affordable family planning.

Posted: Sun, Mar 5, 2017 5:01 PM

(Lori Egan of Decorah has submitted the following Letter to the Editor):

"Health care is complex and the family planning program is complex, too.  I would like to provide corrections to some of Mr. Breitbach's comments in his recent newsletter. It is important to remember the focus of this program is to assure the delivery of quality family planning and related preventive health services, with priority for services to individuals from low-income families. Another important priority is ensuring that all clients receive contraceptive and other services in a voluntary, client-centered and non-coercive manner.
The majority of clients who seek family planning services are working people with some type insurance coverage.

NEICAC's Family planning/Title X clinic provides:
--Family planning services on a discounted fee basis, dependent on household size and household income;
--Confidential billing;
--Specialized care focused on the reproductive health needs through the life cycle, including reproductive life plan/reproductive intentions;
--Providing access to a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and related preventive health services
--A higher level of trust & comfort with the staff for this very sensitive care;

According to our clients, they need affordable health care, a caring staff and easy access to reproductive health information and resources.  They tell us they can get an appointment usually within a week versus the months it takes at other clinics/offices; the family planning clinic's services are far better than anywhere else; the people are great here; my insurance would not cover other providers; my girlfriend likes it, the service is confidential and free; I am a student and do not feel I can use my parent's health insurance for birth control; it's one of the only clinics in the area, it's private; I like the staff here because they are understanding of my particular issues; they really care about your health and your best interest; it's confidential; and I feel like I am more than just a number here.

When asked what will happen when our clinic closes, they say they would be forced to discontinue their family planning health care needs; they say the NEICAC clinic is the only place they can afford to get services; they say the clinic is very helpful for regular exams and STD testings; they say they would have a very difficult time getting and staying on a birth control method; they say they would have to wait longer to be seen and would not feel as comfortable; they say it would be hard to find the needed services, especially without very good insurance.

Are these the very same services clients would receive at the local clinics in Northeast Iowa?  Mr. Breitbach's recommendation that people start seeking family planning services at local hospitals indicates his lack of understanding of what services are provided at hospitals or which services are appropriate to seek at hospitals.

I feel it is important to remember access to health care DOES NOT equal affordable health care for all individuals."