Snap Fact #145

President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act Helps Women Gain Equality In Health Care!
The sections of the Affordable Health Care Act that deal with woman's health care are certainly among the most objectionable parts of the Act to the right wing. A war of ideas is currently being waged over these issues. The subject is likely to be a huge issue in the upcoming election. With the constant stream of misinformation being generated from the right people are justifiably confused. This SNAP-CAP brings you the truth about the various aspects of this war of words with our always reliable, always verifiable accurate information to help you be an informed voter and an informed communicator.

ALREADY IN PLACE: 
1. Medicaid state option to expand family planning
The Affordable Health Care Act created a new Family Planning State Option to allow states to expand access to family planning for individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid but need family planning services. Previously, states could only enroll these individuals in Medicaid family planning programs that are temporary and permitted to limit services and enrollment. This new option allows states to incorporate this limited-scope coverage into their state Medicaid programs, creating an entitlement for all those who qualify.

2. Coverage of preventive care without cost-sharing
The Affordable Health Care Act requires all new insurance plans to cover certain preventive health benefits without cost-sharing. This is particularly significant for women, who have important preventive health needs, lower incomes, and are more likely to forgo preventive care due to cost. Beginning in August 2012, this coverage requirement was expanded to include additional women's preventive health services, including contraception.
3. The end of discriminatory insurance practices
For the first time, the Affordable Health Care Act prohibits sex-based discrimination by all health programs and insurers that receive federal funding. Beginning in 2014, insurers will no longer be permitted to deny women coverage based on "preexisting conditions" such as pregnancy, cesarean sections or domestic violence. Additionally, insurers in the individual and small group markets will no longer be permitted to charge women higher premiums than men.

COMING SOON: 
4. Expansion of Medicaid
Beginning in 2014, Medicaid will expand to cover an additional 16 million individuals living near or below poverty. Although many women already benefit from Medicaid, only those who are pregnant, parenting or living with a disability have historically qualified for enrollment. The Affordable Health Care Act expands eligibility to all individuals with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level. For the first time, low-income women who do not meet previous eligibility criteria - 55% of currently uninsured women - will qualify for comprehensive Medicaid coverage. 

5. Coverage of maternity care
According to a report by the National Women's Law Center, 87% of insurance plans sold in the individual market do not cover maternity care for women. Starting in 2014, the Affordable Health Care Act changes this by requiring all new health plans to cover maternity care as a part of the Essential Health Benefits package. Millions of women will thus have access to affordable coverage for the services they need to stay healthy during pregnancy and safely give birth to healthier babies.