Breaking it Down: The Health Care Law and Women

Ed note: This post originally appeared on healthcare.gov

The President's health law gives hard working, middle-class families the security they deserve. The Affordable Care Act forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy through annual or lifetime limits, and, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

In the past, women often had to pay more for coverage that sometimes didn’t even cover their needs – that’s changing under the health care law. Over 20 million women with private health insurance are receiving expanded preventive services with no cost-sharing, including mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, flu and pneumonia shots, and regular well-baby and well-child visits. What’s more, 1.1 million women between 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured, have coverage under their parent’s health insurance plan. Women are often the ones making health care decisions for the family. The health care law puts them back in charge by shining much-needed light on our health insurance marketplace and cracking down on unjustified premium hikes.

Here are more ways the law helps women:

  1. Soon, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition. Before the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance companies selling individual policies could deny coverage to women due to “pre-existing conditions,” such as having cancer and being pregnant. In 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition, including women.  Already, insurance companies are banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition.
  2. Women Have a Choice of Doctor. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans in 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.
  3. Women Can Receive Preventive Care Without Copays. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans in new health care plans can receive recommended preventive services, like mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits, with no out-of-pocket costs. See a list of preventive services for women.
  4. Women Pay Lower Health Care Costs. Before the law, women could be charged more for individual insurance policies 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. In addition, the law takes strong action to control health care costs, including helping States crack down on excessive premium increases and making sure most of your premium dollars go for your health care.

Learn more about how health care reform is helping Americans

Chris Stenrud is the HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
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