The Affordable Care Act is one year old today. Thanks to this law, millions of women across America will have real -- and equal -- access to health care coverage for the first time in their lives.
Many improvements will be seen as the full law is phased in during the coming years. For instance, health insurance providers will no longer be able to charge women more for coverage just because of their gender. Nor will they be able to deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition. Consequently, an estimated 15 million women who could not afford health insurance before, or who would have been ineligible for coverage, will have it.
While men can certainly be faced with having to leave a job to care for a loved one, it is still women who most often take time off from work to care for a sick parent or raise a child. The importance of this caretaker role is incalculable, and for many families the financial implications can be prohibitive. In 2014, with the new ability to purchase affordable insurance even when you are not employed or when your employer doesn't offer it, women and their families will be spared potentially crippling debt by gaining access to health coverage.
As the saying goes: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And in the case of the ACA, that prevention means more women being able to afford routine -- and potentially lifesaving -- procedures such as mammograms and cervical cancer screenings. Also, since the ACA prohibits insurance providers from requiring referrals to seek care from obstetricians and gynecologists, there will be fewer hoops for women to jump through to get the preventative health care that they desperately need and deserve.