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Repealing the Affordable Care Act Will Hurt Women

The Affordable Care Act makes important advances for women’s health. It protects women from discriminatory health insurance practices, makes health coverage more affordable and easier to obtain, and improves access to many of the health services women need. Repealing this important law will hurt women across the country by returning to the days of a health care system that did not work for them.

Find out more information about how repealing the health care law will harm women in your state. 

Repeal Would Allow Unfair Insurance Practices
The new health care law includes important protections against discriminatory insurance practices. Repealing the law would end these protections and return women to the days when they were treated as a pre-existing condition. Repeal would allow insurance companies to:

  • Deny women coverage if they’ve had a C-section, breast or cervical cancer, or received medical treatment for domestic or sexual violence.
  • Charge individual women and small employers with a predominately-female workforce more for coverage.
  • Place a dollar limit on covered services, meaning plan benefits could run out just when you need them the most.
  • Drop coverage when an enrollee gets sick.

Repeal Will Make Obtaining Insurance Harder and More Expensive
Women in the US are poorer (on average) than men and have more trouble affording health care. The new health care law would expand access to affordable coverage by 2014, but repeal would stop this from happening by:

  • Preventing approximately 4.5 million women from becoming eligible for Medicaid coverage [1].
  • Making sure women don’t see the benefits of new Health Insurance Exchanges that would be established to serve as easy-to-use “insurance shopping centers” where women can compare and choose the high-quality health plan that best fits their needs.
  • Keeping 11 million women from receiving health insurance subsidies to help towards premiums and out-of-pocket costs of Exchange-based health plans [2].

Repeal Will Cause Women to Lose Coverage of Important Health Care Services They Need
The new health care law requires that health plans cover services that are important to women’s health, but repealing the law would end these requirements. Repeal would cause women to lose:

  • No-cost access to important preventive screenings such as mammograms and pap smears.
  • Guaranteed coverage of essential health services important to women including maternity care, prescription drugs, and mental health care, which would take effect in 2014.

Repeal Eliminates Provisions that Improve the Health and Well-Being of Women and their Families
Additional benefits of the new health care law that women will lose include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Tax Credits for Small Business: Women are more likely than men to work for small businesses that don’t offer health insurance, and will benefit from the new tax credits to help small businesses provide coverage to their employees as well as unprecedented access to affordable small group health coverage through the Exchanges.
  • Coverage for Young Women: Young women—who are more likely to be uninsured than women in any other age group—will benefit from the new rule which  allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy as a dependent until age 26 [3]. 
  • Closing the Medicare Drug Coverage Gap: Older women will benefit from a provision which closes the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” or the coverage gap that requires seniors to spend a considerable amount out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. In 2007, 64% of the Medicare beneficiaries that were affected by the “donut hole” were women [4].
  • New Long Term Care Insurance Options: A new national, voluntary insurance program known as CLASS provides long-term services and will alleviate burdens on family caregivers, who are most often women [5].
  • Time for Nursing Moms to Express Breast Milk at Work: Nursing mothers and their infants will gain from a requirement that employers provide a reasonable break time and location to express breast milk.
  • “Direct Access” to Obstetrical and Gynecological Care: All new health plans are prohibited from requiring authorization or prior approval when women seek this type of health care [6].

For more information on the benefits women would lose if the new health reform law is repealed, visit the National Women’s Law Center website: www.nwlc.org/reformmatters

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[1] National Women’s Law Center calculations based on health insurance data for women ages 18-64 from the Current Population Survey’s 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement, using CPS Table Creator, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstc/cps_table_creator.html
[2] Ibid. Includes an estimated 8.1 million uninsured women and 2.9 million women who currently purchase coverage from the individual health insurance market.
[3] At least thirty states already have laws that extend dependent coverage to young adult children, regardless of enrollment in school.  Many of these state laws are more restrictive than the new federal law, and none apply to self-insured or ERISA plans (as the federal law does). The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a list of states’ dependent coverage laws at: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14497
[4] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Strengthening the Health Insurance System: How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America’s Older and Senior Women, http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/seniorwomen/index.html, Last Accessed on April 26, 2010.
[5] Kaiser Family Foundation, Women and Health Care: A National Profile (July 2005), http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/upload/Women-and-Health-Care-A-National-...
[6] Thirty-six states and DC already have direct access laws that managed care companies and group health plans must comply with. However, the new health reform law is broader in scope, since it requires all new health plans (i.e. for individuals and groups of all sizes, including self-insured health plans) to comply. The Kaiser Family Foundation provides a list of existing direct access laws at: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=493&cat=10