Don’t Believe Everything You Read: The ACA IS Helping Women
In her recent post on National Review Online, Grace-Marie Turner argues that American women will pay more for health insurance coverage while losing autonomy, choice and high-quality care under the Affordable Care Act. These accusations – and others – compose a familiar refrain from the opponents of the health care law, but it is a chorus that is inaccurate and out of tune.
On the contrary, the ACA is already helping women and their families gain access to affordable coverage and will continue to expand access as the law is implemented. For example, over 19 million women already have access to a number of preventive services without cost-sharing, including mammograms and colonoscopies. And contrary to Turner’s claims that the ACA will result in the loss of dependent coverage,over 2.5 million young people have been able to gain coverage through a provision that allows dependents to stay on their parents’ coverage through age 26.
Over the next few years, the ACA will continue to expand health care access for millions of American women – such as women who today cannot purchase coverage in the individual market because they have a pre-existing condition, who must pay more than men for the same health insurance policy, and whose individual market plan does not even provide coverage for maternity care.
Under the new law, insurance plans will have to sell health insurance to anyone who seeks it, regardless of their health status. That means an end to insurers in the individual market denying coverage for so-called pre-existing conditions that exclusively or primarily affect women, such as a previous birth by Caesarean-section, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
Similarly, while 88 percent of plans in the individual market do not offer maternity coverage, the ACA ensures that health insurance will cover services that women use, including maternity care. It also requires plans to cover important preventive services, such as mammograms to screen for breast cancer, and Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer, without cost-sharing.
Beyond these important insurance reforms, the new law expands health coverage for up to 10 million low-income women by expanding the Medicaid program and for another 7 million more by helping pay for coverage in the new health insurance exchange. In short, women will gain much under the new health care law and should not be fooled by Turner’s siren song.
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