To mark the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act this week, Health Policy Hub will be cross posting blogs from our state partners that show how people in their states are benefiting from the law. This blog was originally posted on the Health Care for All New York blog.
Women were among the strongest supporters of health reform in the campaign that led up to President Obama’s signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 23, 2010. One year later, women and girls across New York State are experiencing the benefits of the ACA provisions that have gone into effect so far. Raising Women’s Voices, an active member of the HCFANY steering committee, is working to inform women about benefits like these:
- — Young women can now stay on their family health insurance policies up to age 26. This new provision, which applies to all young adults, is especially important for young women, who are in their prime reproductive health years and need affordable family planning and primary care services. It also provides peace of mind for all those moms worried about how their children will maintain health coverage after graduating from high school or college, when so many entry-level jobs no longer include health insurance. Want to know if this applies to your family’s insurance policy and, if so, how to take advantage of it? Go here.
- — Women who are insured can now get preventive care – such as mammograms and Pap smears — without having to come up with co-pays or deductibles. Out-of-pocket costs can discourage women from seeking the preventive care they need. Many important women’s health services are covered by this new provision. Wondering which services are included? Go here to see the list. Of course, we still want to see contraception added to the list. Women can sign the Raising Women’s Voices petition asking the U.S. Department Health and Human Services to declare that Contraception is Prevention by going here.
- — Older women on Medicare now can get annual physicals without co-pays. Also, Medicare enrollees who fall into the Prescription Drug Part D “donut hole” are eligible for 50 percent discounts on brand-name prescription drugs this year, to help hold down their out-of-pocket costs. Yes, these are real women’s health issues! According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 58 percent of Medicare enrollees in New York State are women. To learn more about how to take advantage of these new provisions, go here.
- — Health insurance companies can no longer require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor before you can seek obstetric or gynecological services from an ob/gyn who participates in your plan. This new provision means you can get to your ob/gyn quicker, without having to jump through the hoop of obtaining a referral. Learn more about this provision here.
- — Women who have pre-existing medical conditions and can’t find affordable private health insurance can now get insurance through the New York’s Bridge Plan. Having a medical condition like breast cancer, diabetes or heart disease can make it nearly impossible to find affordable health insurance in the private market in New York State. A woman we know in Queens who has pre-existing medical conditions couldn’t afford the only policy she could find, because the monthly premium was going to be $1,200! Now, she has signed up for New York’s new Bridge Plan and will be getting health insurance for less than $500 a month. The list of pre-existing conditions that qualify you for enrollment in this plan include high-risk pregnancy, complications from pregnancy, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and a number of other conditions specific to women.
Click here to view HCFANY’s policy brief, “Health Reform: What’s in it for women?”
Other great sources of information about how the Affordable Care Act helps women include:
- — Commonwealth Fund- Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: Women and the Affordable Care Act of 2010
- — National Women’s Law Center- The Health Care Litigation: What Women Could Lose
— Lois Uttley, Director Merger Watch Project Co-Founder, Raising Women’s Voices