What the Health Care Law Means for Women
By Dora Hughes, MD, HHS Counselor for Science & Public Health
The Affordable Care Act gives women the freedom from worrying about having their health insurance coverage dropped, denied, or limited if they, or someone in their family, is in an accident or becomes sick.
In addition, the law recognizes that women have unique health care needs, and are often health care decision makers in their households, by offering important benefits to women.
Here are some of benefits for women under the health care law:
- No Discrimination Against Women. Before the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance companies could deny coverage to women due to pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and having been pregnant. Under the law, insurance companies are already banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. In 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
- Choose Your Own Doctors. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans joining new insurance plans have the freedom to choose from any primary care provider, OB-GYN, or pediatrician in their health plan’s network, or emergency care outside of the plan’s network, without a referral.
- Free Preventive Care. Under the Affordable Care Act, all Americans joining a new health care plan can receive recommended preventive services, like mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits, without paying a co-pay, deductible or other out-of-pocket costs.
- Lower Costs. Before the law, women could be charged more for insurance, simply because of their gender. A 22-year-old woman could be charged 150% the premium that a 22-year-old man paid. In 2014, insurers will not be able to charge women higher premiums than they charge men. And new rules in the law ensure that at least 80% of premium dollars go towards actual health services instead of profits or corporate bonuses.
- Banning Lifetime Limits. Insurance companies can no longer place a lifetime cap on the dollar amount of coverage an individual can receive – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.
To learn more, check out this new web page dedicated to the new rights and benefits available to women.