By Padmini Parthasarathy
It’s done. The March 31st sign-up deadline has come and gone, so it looks like the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. We’ve heard a lot about the religious debate over contraceptives and conspiracy theories about death panels, but not much has been said about the many good practices written into the law. Here are six great things the ACA does for women:
1. For Women’s Health and Contraception: Previously, most women’s health services required 20 percent co-pay. Under the new law, these services—such as mammograms, pap smears, and birth control (including oral contraception, the ring, IUDs, diaphragms, and permanent contraceptive methods like tubal ligation)—are fully covered by insurance and cannot require any co-pay. Experts are unsure about whether premiums will rise to account for these new services, but they are guessing that these preventive actions will actually save the system a lot on the whole.
2. No More Denial Based on Pre-existing Conditions… Like Domestic Abuse: Before the ACA was passed, eight states and the District of Columbia didn’t have laws that specifically barred insurance companies from categorizing domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition. There was a federal bill on the floor in 2009 that aimed to ban domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition, but surprise, surprise, it died. By banning the use of pre-existing conditions to deny healthcare or inflate premiums, the ACA ends this nightmarish practice. (ICYMI: Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming were those bad states.)
3. Real Support for Family Caregivers: An estimated 66 percent of caretakers for older and sickly spouses and relatives are women. The ACA establishes Geriatric Education Centers (GECs) for long-term caregivers. The GECs are designed to train family caregivers in geriatrics, long-term care, mental health, and dementia best care practices at minimal to no costGECs are designed to train family caregivers in geriatrics, long-term care, mental health, and dementia best care practices at minimal to no cost.
4. Pregnant Women and Mothers: This is a biggie. Before, healthcare providers were not required to provide coverage for maternity care. The average pregnancy with no complications cost around $10,000; however, only 21 percent of 3,500 reviewed plans offered any sort of maternity coverage, let alone comprehensive coverage. With the ACA, all plans offered in the state exchanges must provide maternity coverage as part of their package. The law also requires that employers provide reasonable time and a space other than a public restroom for new mothers to pump if they are breastfeeding.
5. Comprehensive Sex Education For Teens: The ACA provides for $75 million a year in funding for a state grant program that educates teens about abstinence AND contraception to prevent teen pregnancy and STIs.
6. Ending Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be legally barred from charging women higher premiums. Also, any insurance companies receiving federal funding (including tax credits, subsidies, and contracts) will not be allowed to discriminate against women in this way.
Main Image: Shardayyy via flickr
condom: Polka Dot via flickr
domestic abuse portrait: run jane fox via flckr
breastfeeding: Aurimas via flickr
sex ed: Asiaticleague via flickr