Office of Public Engagement

Eliminating Obstacles to the Care Women Need

The old rules governing our health insurance market hurt families across the country, and women in particular suffered in a system that allowed discrimination and failed to provide affordable coverage options for all Americans.  Consider Jody Miller’s experience, as recently reported by National Public Radio:

Take the case of Jody Miller, an exercise physiologist who wanted to have a baby. She had insurance, but it didn't cover most of her infertility costs. So, she paid about $22,000 out of pocket.

After her triplets were born, she and her husband went looking for a less expensive insurance policy. Miller says one company told them, "Fine, we're happy to insure your children, but because of your infertility, we won't insure you or your husband." That was even without infertility coverage. Other insurers denied her as well.

"I'm as healthy as they come," Miller says. She wound up in a special Maryland state pool for people who can't get insurance.

Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act will help eliminate these hurdles and make stories like Jody’s a thing of the past.  The new law will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to any woman because of a pre-existing condition, excluding coverage of certain conditions or discriminating against her because of her gender.

The law will also give women and their families the affordable health choices they need and access to critical preventive services.  Under the Affordable Care Act:

  • This year, new insurance plans must cover prevention and wellness benefits at no charge.
  • Insurance plans in the new exchange must cover maternity benefits.
  • Health insurance exchanges will make it easy for all Americans to compare prices, benefits and performance of health plans to decide which quality affordable option is right for themselves and their families.
  • Women and families who cannot afford health insurance will be eligible for tax credits.
  • The law requires coverage of not only basic pediatric services under all new health plans, but also oral and vision needs for children, starting in 2014.
  • This year, the law will prohibit insurance companies from denying children coverage based on preexisting conditions.
  • This year, all lifetime limits on how much insurance companies cover if women get sick will be eliminated and the law bans insurance companies from dropping women from coverage when they get sick.

Check out this fact sheet to learn more about how women will benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

Tina Tchen is Director of the Office of Public Liaison

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