The health care law benefits women and their families in many ways.
For instance, the law provides better access to affordable coverage, ends insurance practices that discriminate because of gender, ensures availability of benefits, improves access to specialists, expands coverage for children and helps pay for long-term care. The law:
Provides greater access to affordable health coverage
• Health insurance exchanges will be established for people who can’t or don't receive coverage through their job. The exchanges, which will be set up in every state, will provide “one-stop shopping,” so it will be easier to compare plans and prices. If you are eligible for insurance through an exchange and do not buy it, you will be subject to a penalty. Insurance exchanges will begin in 2014.
• Insurance plans sold in the exchanges must cover a range of benefits, including maternity care, prescription drugs and mental health care. You will be able to pick among several levels of coverage that best fit your needs.
• If you have been uninsured for at least six months and have a pre-existing condition, you may be eligible for a Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). This plan – available in your state now – provides temporary coverage until 2014 when you can get insurance through the health insurance exchanges regardless of your health status.
Ends insurance practices that discriminate based on gender
• Insurance companies can no longer drop your health coverage if you become sick. Your health insurance coverage is guaranteed so long as you pay your premiums.
• Beginning in 2014, the law ends the common practice of “gender rating,” so insurers will no longer be able to charge women more than they do men for the same type of coverage. This provision applies to people with individual coverage and to small businesses that have up to 100 employees.
• Starting in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition such as breast or cervical cancer, pregnancy, or cesarean section.
Ensures that women receive the benefits they need to stay healthy
• Starting in 2010 for new plans, you will not have to pay some of the costs for preventive care. Such services include mammograms, immunizations and screenings for diabetes and certain cancers.
• Health plans can no longer require that women obtain a preauthorization or referral for access to ob-gyn care.
Improves access to providers who specialize in women’s health
• The law provides better access to doctors and nurse practitioners who provide primary care services. The benefit will help improve care for women who have chronic health conditions and who often require ongoing health care. These provisions started in 2011; they will be phased in over time.
Expands insurance coverage for children and young adults
• Your adult son or daughter may be able to remain on your insurance policy until he or she turns 26.
• Insurers must cover children under age 19 who have pre-existing conditions.