Health Reform: Winning for Women
I think it is no coincidence that the 2nd anniversary of the ACA coincides with the celebration of Women’s History Month. Women have made numerous contributions to society that throughout the ages have received little attention, not unlike the valuable protections afforded to women by the ACA that often go unacknowledged. Yet, neither are Women’s History Month or the anniversary of the ACA a time for sullen faces; let us celebrate all that we have achieved!
Prevention & Wellness Benefits: Beginning in 2014, co-payments will no longer be required for well women visits, contraception, or maternity care in the individual market. These benefits take into account the health of both women that do not wish to conceive and those that are planning a healthy childbirth. That is something we can all be proud of, planned parenthood!
In addition, Essential Health Benefits (EHB) must be offered to all enrollees in the Exchanges as well as in non-grandfathered small group and individual plans. EHB includes 10 categories of services including substance abuse, mental health services, and prescription drugs. These are services that too many Americans go without, and their inclusion speaks to the administration’s acknowledgement of health as being about more than just the physical.
Affordability: Beginning in 2014, women, finally, cannot be charged higher premiums than men for the same health insurance policy. Given that women already face a number of financial difficulties, including lower wages for equal work, the prohibition for insurance companies to charge women higher premiums for being, well, women, is an huge step in the right direction!
Moreover, many uninsured adults will benefit from the expansion of Medicaid eligibility up to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Again, this is pretty colossal! Medicaid covers about one-third of the nation’s children, as either a primary or secondary insurer. Yet, most states do not even cover parents up to the poverty line. Children need healthy moms (and dads, of course), so let’s celebrate this healthy step benefitting kids and parents!
Still, those that are not eligible for Medicaid, but have income between 133% up to 400% of FPL and do not have access to affordable employer- sponsored insurance will be provided tax credits to offset the cost of obtaining insurance in the Exchanges.
Guaranteed Coverage: No longer can consumers be denied coverage due to preexisting conditions, or denied a policy renewal as a result of health status. We’ve heard the horror stories (however rare some may be), and that means that one abnormal pap cannot be counted against you.
Also, as of the fall of 2010, young adults up to age 26 are eligible to stay on their parents private insurance plan. This has been a boon, both for those without access to affordable employer coverage, and as an alternative to the student health plans, often lacking in benefits.
While some of these benefits are specific to women, many stand to benefit everyone’s access to health. So you see, it is true; when women win, we all win!!
Note: Tara Mancini is co-chair of WIN’s Women’s Health Policy Network. Excerpts from this blog were previously published in the March newsletter. All opinions expressed above are the author’s alone.