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Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Health Insurance Companies Leave Women Without Critical Coverage

Yesterday, the National Women’s Law Center issued an extensive report on insurance issuers’ compliance with Affordable Care Act requirements for women’s health coverage. We found violations in health plans offered in all 15 states in our study — which tells us that women covered by other issuers, and in other states, are probably also being denied coverage for the critical women’s health services guaranteed by the law.

The ACA made dramatic improvements in women’s health coverage by ensuring that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women, and requiring plans to offer women coverage for critical health services like maternity care, birth control and prescription drugs. But these guarantees ring hollow when insurance issuers are able to offer coverage that violates these requirements. Read more »

Birth Control Without Costs: It's The Law

Here at NWLC, we are big fans of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit because it removes cost barriers to birth control and has the potential to change women’s lives. Which is why the findings in our report, “State of Birth Control Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act,” are so troubling. While most women are getting coverage of birth control without out-of-pocket costs like the law requires, some insurance companies are not complying with the law. Some insurance companies charge women for their birth control, do not cover it at all, charge for services associated with the birth control, or place unallowable limits on the coverage. When we uncover these violations of the law, we know that women aren’t able to access their birth control method because of the cost barrier. Read more »

The Affordable Care Act — Latest Data is a Good News Story

Is it working? In the health care context, you might ask this about a prescription drug, a chemotherapy regimen, or a rehabilitation plan. But we don’t really need to ask that any longer about the Affordable Care Act. According to the latest Gallup-Healthways survey, the uninsured rate among American adults has fallen to 11.9 percent — a drop of more than 5 percentage points since the end of 2013, which was right before coverage began through the ACA’s health care Marketplaces.

While it is exciting enough to see the uninsured rate for American adults fall by nearly one-third, it is even more exciting to see that the groups most likely to lack insurance — low-income Americans, Latinos, young adults and African Americans — have seen the most change under the law. The good folks at Gallup-Healthways haven’t broken down their data by gender, but we do know that 54 percent of Marketplace enrollees are women — which tells us that many of the individuals with new coverage are likely to be women. Read more »

Happy Fifth Birthday, ACA!

Can you believe it? The ACA is already five years old. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the law’s passage. Today, we can celebrate the law’s continued success.

It’s clear the law is working. Because of the ACA, women are protected from discriminatory health insurance practices, health coverage is more affordable and easier to obtain, and women have better access to many of the health services they need. Read more »

House and Senate Budgets Threaten Women’s Health

Earlier this week, the House released a proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY2016) which would leave millions of women and their families without the financial security of high quality health insurance, unable to access the health care services they need, and facing dramatic increases in their healthcare costs. To learn more about the details of House budget proposal, our analysis is available here

Late yesterday, the Senate released their counterpart [PDF] to the House budget. The strategy is the same: repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicare and Medicaid. The results would be the same, too: millions of women left without access to affordable health coverage and the care they need.

Specifically, the Senate budget proposes: Read more »

Can The Supreme Court Take Away Maternity Coverage?

Imagine an insurance market where only 12% of health insurance plans include maternity coverage. Imagine further that if a woman wanted to add maternity coverage, she would have to pay thousands of additional dollars each year and, even then, the insurance would not cover her pregnancy until she passed a one or two year waiting period. If a woman was pregnant when she applied for coverage or had a previous caesarian delivery, she could be denied health insurance.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine, since this was the individual health insurance market in the United States just fifteen months ago.

When LaDonna Appelbaum became pregnant in 2010, she discovered that her health insurance did not cover maternity care — it did not cover any costs related to prenatal care, nor any related to her eventual miscarriage. When she searched for a new policy that would provide these benefits, she was told that she would have to endure a one-year waiting period for pregnancy coverage — and then her premiums would quadruple.

The individual health insurance market failed women like LaDonna before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, March 4, the Supreme Court will hear a case that could bring those failures back. Read more »

What Are They Thinking? Six States Argue Against Financial Assistance in King v. Burwell—Threatening Nearly 1 Million Women

On March 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in King v. Burwell, a case challenging a core provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Court will decide whether individuals and families will continue to receive tax credits to help purchase insurance on the federally-facilitated health insurance marketplaces. There are currently 37 states that utilize this kind of marketplace.

The loss of tax credits would have dire consequences in these states — we estimate that nearly 7 million women would lose access to affordable coverage. Last year, 86 percent of people who sought coverage in the federally-facilitated marketplaces used tax credits to lower their premiums [PDF], and this year’s enrollees similarly rely on this help. If such a high proportion of Marketplace enrollees lose coverage following the Court’s decision, premiums for remaining enrollees would skyrocket, further destabilizing the market. Read more »

Starve American Workers Act Is More Like It

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed H.R. 30, a bill to chip away at the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide health coverage for employees who work at least 30 hours a week, amending it so that employers would only be required to provide health insurance coverage to those who work 40 hours per week. Read more »

Save American Workers from H.R. 30

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will be voting on H.R. 30, a bill that would change the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time work so that employers only have to offer health insurance to employees who regularly work 40 or more hours a week. Without this change, employers must offer coverage to employees who regularly work 30 or more hours a week.

These are four reasons H.R. 30 is bad for American women, American workers and American families. Read more »

Five Things to Remember During Open Enrollment this Year

Open enrollment for health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplaces begins this weekend. Open enrollment is an annual opportunity for women to compare their insurance options and, depending on their circumstances, renew with their current plan, enroll in a new plan, or apply for Marketplace coverage for the first time. In 2014, more than 4 million women enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. This year, many more women and their families are likely to shop for coverage and select a new health plan.

As women consider their options during open enrollment, here are five things to keep in mind: Read more »