Women will benefit from the new health reform law over the next decade, either through new or strengthened insurance coverage, according to a new report on July 30, 20101 from The Commonwealth Fund.
Provisions important to women will expand eligibility for Medicaid; provide subsidies to purchase insurance; limit out-of-pocket spending; prevent insurers from charging higher premiums or denying coverage based on health status or gender; and require new plans to cover maternity and newborn care. These provisions will also help uninsured women who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid or premium subsidies gain comprehensive coverage.
Although women are just as likely to be uninsured as men, their health care needs leave them more vulnerable to high health care costs and problems related to loss of health insurance. Because insurance carriers consider women, particularly those of reproductive age, higher risk than men, women report greater difficulties gaining coverage in the individual insurance market and are charged much higher premiums for the same benefits than men of the same age. Further, most individual policies do not cover pregnancy.
Uninsured women will gain coverage under the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that provide temporary coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions who are uninsured during 2010 to 2013.
Although women will have to wait until 2014 to begin to reap the greatest benefits from expanded and improved insurance coverage several early provisions beginning in 2010 will also provide important support the study shows. These include:
Strengthened and expanded insurance coverage for young adults, through policies that allow adult children up to age 26 to come on, or stay on, their parents’ plans, and bans on pre-existing condition exclusions;
Bans on lifetime benefit limits and phase-out of annual limits;
Bans on rescissions of insurance policies;
Coverage of recommended preventive services without cost-sharing including mammograms;
Eligibility for a new plan that covers uninsured people with pre-existing conditions that currently make it difficult for them to gain coverage; and
Rebates to women enrolled in Medicare who reach the “doughnut hole” in their prescription drug plans; women, along with people with diabetes and Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia are most likely to reach this gap in coverage.
Do not get your hopes up yet. Alabama is one of twenty states that have filed suit against the health care reform bill so any obedience to the law is in abeyance for an undefined period of time in Alabama.
Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: Women and the Affordable Care Act of 2010
S. Collins, S. Rustgi, and M. Doty, Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: Women and the Affordable Care Act of 2010, The Commonwealth Fund, July 2010.
Author(s): Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., Sheila D. Rustgi, and Michelle M. Doty, Ph.D.