To borrow a line from Disney’s Frozen, “for the first time in forever” every moment of 2022 was not defined by COVID.

Instead, a large chunk of the year’s health headlines was devoted to the overturning of reproductive options and its impact on Wisconsin women.

But not all headlines were bad. Here are several “good news” standouts:

1. With Roe Gone, Neighbors Offer Women Rides to Neighboring States for Health Care.
After the US Supreme Court reversed 50 years of precedent– reinstating Wisconsin’s 1848 abortion ban– “do gooders” quickly sprang into action, using Facebook groups to offer emergency rides to women in need of options.

Within hours, individual posts received more than 200 comments and 700 reactions from total strangers offering help. In addition to rides, posters shared resources: links to Planned Parenthood Wisconsin, as well as the Women’s Medical Fund Wisconsin (WMF), which has been helping women pay for abortion care since 1972.

Currently, abortion remains legal in every state that borders Wisconsin: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. 

Click here to read more about the neighbors-helping-neighbors movement and how you can help.

2. For the First Time Ever, Doctors Recommend Annual Anxiety Screenings for All Adults
Anxiety disorders, which often manifest as panic attacks and phobias, affect roughly 40% of American women and 25% of US men. Black people, those living in poverty, and people who have lost their partner are at higher risk.

In 2022, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended all adults under 65 receive annual screenings for anxiety, even if they aren’t showing symptoms. The recommendation was based on a review that began before the pandemic, but gained more traction because of it.

In August, Gov. Tony Evers earmarked $14 million of federal funds for mental health services. That money is being used to expand the state’s mental health care workforce and provide more options for kids dealing with anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.

Click here to read more about Wisconsin’s leaders have said and done to address the mental health epidemic.

3. Wisconsin Returns to Averaging Zero COVID Deaths/Day Thanks to Boosters and Better Treatments.
Nearly three years after the first case was reported, 73% of Wisconsinites have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 67% are fully vaccinated. 39% have also received a booster dose.

This puts the Badger State ahead of Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan in terms of vaccination rates, but behind Illinois and Minnesota, where 70% of people are fully vaccinated.

While doctors still say vaccines and boosters are still your best protection against COVID, the antiviral drug Paxlovid is also saving lives. According to a new study from the CDC and Verona-based Epic Research, Americans who took Paxlovid within five days of diagnosis had a 51% lower hospitalization rate than those who didn’t.

Click here to read more about the safeguards that prevented more COVID deaths in Wisconsin.

4. Health Care is More Affordable Than Ever.

Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, 80% of enrollees are able to select a 2023 plan that costs less than $10/month and NO ONE will spend more than 8.5% of their income on insurance premiums.

Other positive changes include:

  • More insurers than ever before (220 to be exact!)
  • Financial help for anyone earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level (which is most Americans!)
  • Set deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and co-pays (to simplify your coverage!)

Visit Healthcare.Gov by Sunday, Jan. 15 to shop, compare plans, and enroll.

What Does This Mean for 2023 (& Beyond)? While limited reproductive options, heightened anxiety rates, and seasonal COVID spikes are the “new normal,” you can still find quality, effective treatments and healthcare in Wisconsin, which are only expected to improve.