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Statement of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Women's Health Week

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This is National Women's Health Week, an annual, week-long observance that reminds women to make their personal health a priority. But until this year, millions of women have found it difficult to follow through on that advice, because a broken health insurance system limited their access to medical care.

This past March, when President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, we took an historic step to fix our broken health care system, which far too often has charged women more for less than adequate insurance and unstable coverage.

In 45 states across the U.S., when a woman tried to buy health insurance through the individual insurance market, companies could legally charge women higher premiums, exclude benefits like breast cancer treatment, and reject your application if you were a victim of domestic violence. The vast majority of individual policies did not cover maternity care.

Under the Affordable Care Act, all of that will change. The new law will make landmark improvements to women's health security, banning insurance companies from discriminating based on gender, expanding coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, offering free coverage for preventive services, helping pregnant women and new mothers get the care they need, and prohibiting insurers from dropping women's coverage if they get sick.

For too many years, American women have been paying the price for a broken health care system that was not set up to help them. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Women's Health Week 2010 can be a true celebration of a healthier future for the women of America, and a new opportunity for all Americans to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.


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