But wait, you ask—what do taxes have to do with signing up for health insurance? Quite a bit, it turns out. The IRS just released some health care tax tips—from those, here are a couple of really important highlights to keep in mind between now and next tax season. And yes, I did say next tax season—what you know now will definitely help you later. Read more »
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that over three million people have selected health insurance plans through the new Health Insurance Marketplaces. It’s no surprise that 55 percent of these new enrollees are women. Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance purchased on the Marketplaces offers women new benefits and protections while also providing financial help to pay for coverage for themselves and their family.
HHS released cumulative data for the first four months of open enrollment. The HHS report [PDF] provides detailed data on the plans selected on Healthcare.gov, the federally facilitated marketplace (FFM), and provides more limited information about the 15 state-based marketplaces. We looked at the data for the plans selected through the FFM and crunched the numbers to see how many women – specifically, those of reproductive age – are enrolling in health coverage:
Over 430,000 women of reproductive age (between the ages of 18 and 44) have selected a health insurance plan.
Nearly 40 percent of all female enrollees on Healthcare.gov are of reproductive age.
Of all enrollees aged 18 to 44, 55 percent are women.
My mom is a busy person. She’s a rock star teacher, a single parent, an entrepreneur, and an active volunteer. So when she also finds time to swing by the post office to send a care package to me across the country, I am seriously impressed.
Most often, a care package will arrive near Valentine’s Day — a holiday that my family has always celebrated detached from any romantic connotations, choosing instead to focus on our shared love of sweets. And because my mom is a busy person, the assembly of said Valentine’s care package can seem … haphazard … to the untrained eye.
For example, items that I have received in past packages include: Read more »
Yesterday, the American Heart Association released new prevention guidelines for women regarding stroke. These guidelines are particularly important for women with high blood pressure, which puts them at increased risk for stroke, the third leading cause of death among women. A quick read of the guidelines and reporting about them raises a question. Both pregnancy and birth control pills put women at greater risk for stroke. So what’s a girl who already has high blood pressure but doesn’t want to get pregnant to do? Read more »
Today, the National Women’s Law Center filed sex discrimination complaints with the HHS Office for Civil Rights against four long-term care insurance companies in response to their practice of “gender-rating” long-term care insurance policies. This gender-based pricing scheme means that women will be charged more than men for the same long-term care insurance coverage simply because they are women. That’s sex discrimination plain and simple, in violation of the law that prohibits sex discrimination in health care—Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read more »
Critics have pointed to this week’s study of emergency department use in the Oregon Medicaid program as the latest evidence of the ultimate – if not imminent – failure of health reform. In this examination of Oregonians who won the state’s 2008 health insurance lottery, and were thus able to enroll in Medicaid coverage, researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research determined that newly-insured individuals used emergency departments 40 percent more often than similar, but uninsured, state residents. This conclusion, Obamacare critics allege, undermines a key argument for health reform, particularly for states that have not yet implemented expanded coverage under Medicaid – namely, that improving health coverage will reduce emergency department visits and, in turn, save money.
But not so fast. Leaving aside the absurdity of needing to participate in a lottery to get health coverage – a dehumanizing process that health reform will hopefully banish forever – the Oregon experience represents only one look at emergency department use after a Medicaid eligibility expansion. And this study only looks at the first 18 months after the lottery, which translates to an average of 13 months of coverage. In Massachusetts, which implemented health reform in 2006, emergency department use first grew (or continued to grow consistent with previous trends, depending on which study you look at) and then declined between 5 to 8 percent – with a significant drop in ED visits for problems that could be treated in a doctor’s office. Researchers attribute this decline to the reform’s expansion of coverage. Read more »
What is a pre-existing condition? It is a term used by insurance companies to deny coverage to people who have health needs. A pre-existing condition may be a condition a woman has received treatment for previously or a condition she does not even know about when she applied for insurance coverage. It may be a condition that occurred at any time in a woman’s life:
From Birth: A pre-existing condition can be a condition a woman has had since birth, like my friend Abby. Abby was born with a congenital condition that has no cure. She has been lucky to always have health insurance through her parents’ plan, but she always had concerns about what would happen in the future. Come January 1, Abby no longer has to worry about her health condition being a pre-existing condition.
From Childhood: I was eleven years old when I was taken to the emergency room because I was having trouble breathing. That was my first asthma attack. I had a pre-existing condition as of the age of eleven and if I ever had to apply for insurance on the individual market, that asthma diagnosis would be right there with me. Like Abby, I’ve been lucky to always have insurance through my parents, my work or my school. But I have also known that my life choices were limited by my access to health insurance. Come January 1, I will have a wave of relief to know that it no longer matters that I have a pre-existing condition.
I know this is not the most health conscious time of year. The holiday season kicked off last week with turkey, stuffing, and pie (and latkes for many of you!) and we are still several weeks away from New Year’s resolutions. Weeks that will be filled with eggnog and cookies and the ever expanding selection of holiday beers I keep eyeing in my grocery store cooler. No one wants to think about getting their cholesterol checked.
But this is also the time of year where we are surrounded by family and friends and spend a lot of time thinking about all we have to be grateful for. I spent Thanksgiving joking that what I would be most thankful for was a Texas Longhorn win against Texas Tech. But a few days later my cousins and I learned our beloved high school math teacher had passed away at age 54. It was a sobering reminder to stop making football jokes and take stock of what I was really thankful for. Like the fact that my family was healthy enough to gather around the table together.
And I’m especially thankful that staying healthy is getting easier for millions of other American families. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans without affordable insurance coverage have new options. Read more »
My immediate family’s Thanksgiving celebration is full of tradition – maybe a little too full. We always gather at my step-sister’s house, and everybody who attends brings the same dish every year. For example, Stephanie has claimed my mother’s sweet potato recipe for the last 15 years. Maybe more. Brian brings the appetizers, but he is always late. Paula always brings a pecan pie, which looks delicious but I am just too full to eat it by the time we get to dessert.
Our conversation can be a little, um, traditional too. For example, we go around the table and everyone says what they are thankful for. In 2010, after passage of the Affordable Care Act earlier that year, I said I was thankful that my daughter would grow up in a country that provides affordable, high-quality health care to everyone, and that she would never need to worry having health coverage. My daughter said she was thankful for her nightgown. (She was three.)
I will be talking about the Affordable Care Act at Thanksgiving this year, too – even before we say what we are thankful for. I will be making sure that my friends who own their own small business know that they might qualify for tax credits to help them with the cost of buying health insurance. Read more »
Late last Friday, the 7th Circuit ruled in favor of two for-profit corporations and the individuals who own them in their challenge to the ACA’s contraceptive coverage rule. The court concluded not only that the rule substantially burdens the religious exercise rights of the company’s owners but also that the rule substantially burdens the independent religious exercise rights of the for-profit corporation. This is the first decision to find thatboth the for-profit corporation is a “person” capable of exercising religion and that the individuals who own it can challenge a rule that applies to their company (and not to them) under RFRA.
Two judges reached that conclusion over the strong dissent of Judge Ilana Rovner. At several points, she suspects there’s something fishy going on here with the birth control rule. And it has something to do with women, sex, and stigma. Read more »