No matter who you are, the Affordable Care Act will help make your health care better. The reforms in the law will help bring costs down and will improve the quality of care for all Americans.
But we know that women in particular suffered under the old health care system and will especially benefit from the important changes in the new law. This was confirmed last week, with the release of a new report from the Commonwealth Fund highlighting how important the new law is for women across the country. The report notes:
Up to 15 million women who now are uninsured could gain subsidized coverage under the law. In addition, 14.5 million insured women will benefit from provisions that improve coverage or reduce premiums. Women who have coverage through the individual insurance market and are charged higher premiums than men, who have been unable to secure cover-age for the cost of pregnancy, or who have a preexisting health condition excluded from their benefits will ultimately find themselves on a level playing field with men, enjoying a full range of comprehensive benefits.
Under the old health care system, a healthy 22-year-old woman could be charged premiums 150 percent higher than a 22-year-old man and many insurance companies treated simply being a woman as a “pre-existing condition.” Many individual market health insurance policies didn’t include maternity care and some states even made it legal for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence.
The new law makes important changes that will help ensure all women get the care they need and deserve. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from denying any woman coverage because of a pre-existing condition, excluding coverage of that condition, or charging more because of health status or gender. Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition.
The law will also help ensure women have access to a host of preventive benefits including mammograms and pap smears. If you purchase a new insurance policy after September 23, insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you a deductible, co-payment or co-insurance for these and other preventive services. You can learn more about these new preventive services, and get information about your health care choices at HealthCare.gov.
And beginning in 2014, Americans will have access to a new competitive insurance marketplace. The new marketplace will include health insurance exchanges where millions of Americans and small businesses will be able to purchase affordable coverage, and have the same choices of insurance that Members of Congress will have.
To learn more, read about the benefits of the new law for women.
Tina Tchen is Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls