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· December 3, 2013

The Affordable Care Act Is Great News for Ohio Women

As the debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or ObamaCare)  implementation continues, we should consider the positive impact it has on women across the nation.  The ACA aims to ameliorate the gender gap in health care by making quality, affordable health services more accessible to more American women. This is especially good news for Ohio’s women, where health care has previously been particularly discriminatory. The Guttmacher Institute reports that in 2012 nearly 20% of women ages 15-65 years lacked health insurance across the country, 17% of women in Ohio are uninsured. This rate doubles for women living below the poverty line. According to the National Women’s Law Center, women who had health coverage paid higher insurance premiums than their male counterparts and usually did not receive essential benefits, including maternity care. Some states practice gender rating, allowing insurance providers to consider being a woman a “pre-existing condition” and justification for charging more (in some cases nearly double) what a man paid for the same health care plan, or reason for denial of coverage completely. In Ohio, every plan practiced some form for gender rating, and none of them offered maternity care. Furthermore, women were more likely to be insured through their spouse’s plan, putting them at risk for losing benefits in the case of divorce, spousal death, or if their spouse loses their job. However, the Affordable Care Act, when fully implemented in 2014, is expected to give 13 million more women access to quality, comprehensive health services across the U.S. According to a White House report on health reform for women and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the ACA regulates insurance companies, requiring all Marketplace health care policies to provide more services to women without additional or excessive costs. In other words, women will no longer incur higher insurance premiums for being a woman. Women will have access to a greater range of preventative services and maternity care, many of which were previously unavailable in most health insurance plans. These services now include:
  • Well-woman visits
  • Gestational diabetes screening
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women
  • Mammograms and Colonoscopies
Suffering from a chronic illness, having had a C-section, or having been a victim of domestic violence is no longer considered a pre-existing condition and justification for insurance companies to deny coverage, charge higher rates, or drop coverage if you become ill, as is currently the case. The ACA now requires that premiums be determined based only on: age, place one lives, and if one is a smoker. Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition.  

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