Ahead of the new health care reform law's two year anniversary, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) highlighted benefits to women in California's 23rd Congressional District. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, 41,000 women have already received preventive care services, including mammograms, without co-pays. This morning, Capps participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill with several of her women Member colleagues in the House of Representatives to talk about how the Affordable Care Act benefits women.
Health Care Reform marks a tremendous victory for women's health and equality, and ensures that women will have access to the health care they need, when they need it. Women have unique health care needs, but before the health care reform law too many of these needs went unmet. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, for the first time health insurance plans will also be required to cover essential preventive services for women, including FDA approved contraceptives, an annual well woman preventive care visit, and screenings for gestational diabetes and domestic violence," said Capps.
Beginning in September 2010, the Affordable Care Act requires new private insurance plans to cover general preventive care services without any co-pay, coinsurance, or deductible. As a result of a comprehensive study on women's health conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), beginning in August 2012, a range of essential preventive services for women will be added to the list for required coverage. These services include coverage for FDA approved contraceptives, screening for gestational diabetes, counseling and screening for sexually transmitted infections and domestic violence, comprehensive breastfeeding support, and a free annual well woman preventive care visit. This is important because research has identified out-of-pocket costs are a primary barrier to accessing preventive health care.
Additional reforms to improve health care access for women will also be implemented in 2014. In 2014, being a woman can no longer be treated as a "pre-existing condition" by insurance companies. Currently, insurance companies have been able to charge women more for plans identical to those that men purchase, leading to higher costs for families and small businesses that primarily employ women. In addition, plans will be required to cover maternity care and women will not be able to be denied coverage because she has had a cesarean section or if she experienced domestic violence.