Our guest bloggers are Jessica Arons, director of the women’s health and rights program, and Lucy Panza, CAP policy analyst.
The Supreme Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.” This landmark piece of legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama drastically reforms the way health insurance works in our country. Below, we outline 10 reasons why women in America have so much riding on the Supreme Court’s decision:
1. Obamacare guarantees coverage of preventive services with no cost sharing. Preventive care promotes health and saves money. Yet many preventive care services are out of women’s reach due to high co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance. More than 50 percent of women have delayed seeking medical care due to cost, and one-third of women report forgoing basic necessities to pay for health care. But under the health reform law, insurers are now required to cover recommended preventive services such as mammograms, Pap smears, and well-baby care without cost sharing. More than 45 million women have already taken advantage of these services. And starting this August more services, including contraception, gestational diabetes screening, and breastfeeding supports, will be added to the list of preventive care that must be covered at no additional cost.
2. Maternity care will be required in new insurance plans. Coverage for maternity care—health care that only women need—is routinely excluded in the individual insurance market. Only 12 percent of plans sold in the individual market even offer maternity coverage, which is frequently inadequate because of waiting periods or deductibles that can be as high as the cost of the birth itself. But once Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014, about 8.7 million women will have guaranteed access to maternity care in all new individual and small group plans.
3. Women will no longer be denied insurance coverage for gender-related reasons. In today’s insurance market, it is common for insurers to refuse to cover women because of gender-based “pre-existing conditions,” such as having had a Cesarean section or being the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. Thankfully, this practice will be outlawed under Obamacare in 2014. In the meantime, adults with pre-existing conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months can purchase affordable coverage through temporary Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans.
4. Women will no longer be charged more for their insurance coverage just for being women. Under a practice known as “gender rating,” insurers currently charge women higher premiums than men for identical health benefits. As a result, women now pay $1 billion more than men each year for the same health plans in the individual market. As of 2014, however, under the Affordable Care Act, gender rating will become illegal in all new individual and small group plans.
5. Women have more control over their health care. Already, women no longer need a referral to see their obstetrician-gynecologist thanks to Obamacare. And they get to choose their primary care physician and their child’s pediatrician from their plan’s list of participating providers.