Community View: Women Gain From Health Care Law, The Journal News, Oct. 15, 2013
Op-Ed by President/CEO Reina Schiffrin
October 1st marked a turning point for nearly 12 million uninsured women, ages 19-44, in the U.S. Young women, in particular, stand to benefit dramatically from the Affordable Care Act, often called, Obamacare. According to published news reports, millions of Americans tried to access their state exchanges on the first day, causing several state health insurance exchange sites to experience temporary crashes because of this heavy traffic.
Here are 10 things people need to know about what Obamacare means for them:
· Most people making less than $45,960 per year will get help paying for a plan.
· All insurance plans will have to cover doctor visits, hospitalizations, birth control, maternity care, prescription medications, ER care and more.
· People can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition such as diabetes or cancer.
· For people who currently have insurance, coverage is expanding to include these benefits.
· Young people can stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26.
· Prescription birth control will be available for free, without a copay. Every plan will cover all kinds of birth control (pill, implants, IUDs), but the specific brands available without a co-pay vary by insurance plan.
· Annual well-woman exams will be provided for free, without a copay. These regular checkups may include pelvic exams, breast cancer screenings, STI testing, and counseling on birth control options.
· Testing for HIV or other STIs will be available for free.
· Women cannot be charged more for their health plans simply because of their gender.
Women have unique health care needs during their reproductive years. The average woman spends three decades actively trying to prevent pregnancy and about five years trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, or in the immediate post-partum state. During these years, she experiences ongoing health care needs and major health care events. Yet this is also the age when many women have spotty health insurance coverage or none at all. Women ages 18 to 29 need access to health care mostly for reproductive health services, yet they are disproportionately in the ranks of the uninsured: representing more than one-fourth of all uninsured women.
We see this every day at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. More than 33,800 patients come to our 11 health centers in the lower Hudson Valley and Suffolk County every year for high-quality, affordable health care. Most often, they come for birth control and annual checkups (including cancer screenings), as well as STI testing. The Affordable Care Act will ensure that even more of them get the preventive care they need to catch problems early, stay healthy, and pursue their goals and dreams.
As the leading women’s health care provider and advocate in the lower Hudson Valley, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic is particularly aware of how the new law will impact young women – and we are committed to helping everyone understand how they can get covered. We are participating in a nationwide multimedia campaign to help inform and educate uninsured New Yorkers in the communities we serve about the benefits and availability of new health insurance plans. The centerpiece of the campaign, PlannedParenthoodHealthInsuranceFacts.org, is an online resource, in English and in Spanish, that provides an overview of what the law means for women, a glossary of important terms related to the law and to health insurance, a cost calculator that helps visitors get a sense of what kind of financial assistance they may be eligible for, and specifics on what to consider as a woman in choosing a health insurance plan.
It’s time to replace confusion with clarity – and time to get covered.