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Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Breast Pumps Aren’t a Fashion Accessory

This weekend, the Washington Post published an article describing how the breast pump industry is faring now that the health care law requires health insurance coverage of such pumps. The article quoted our very own Judy Waxman and yours truly. As expected, there were many comments from readers vehemently disagreeing with the premise of covering breast pumps. The gist of the complaint is: “why should I pay for other peoples’ breast pumps. Why do women get these things for free?”

My initial response to these complaints is – as I have explained time and again – women are not getting their birth control or pumps for “free.” They are paying for it when they pay for health insurance, either by working for it and having it included as part of the employee’s benefit package (and likely still paying part of the premium) or by paying for it directly on the individual market. So this stuff isn’t “free,” the woman IS paying for it. Do you call the preventive care visits that now don’t have a no co-pay as “free?” No, it is not free. You pay premiums to your health insurance company so that they cover these medical care costs when you need such care. Read more »

The ACA Contraceptive Coverage Lawsuits: The Employee’s Right to Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

Last week at a lunch with African advocates for women’s rights, we discussed pregnancy rates in Africa and the United States. Across the continents one thing remained constant—women have better outcomes when they are able to control their fertility. They enjoy greater freedom to pursue academic studies or careers, and to plan their lives as they see fit.

The ACA’s contraceptive coverage rule affords 47 million women this freedom by ensuring that they will be able to access birth control and related information through private insurance without having to worry about the cost. While many celebrate the anticipated improvements to women and children’s health, others are infuriated by the rule.

Opponents to birth control have made speeches decrying the rule, hosted conferences and brought lawsuit, after lawsuit, after lawsuit... Since the lawsuits have proved to be a publicity-gaining tool, we can anticipate many more. Read more »

States Not Expanding Medicaid Eligibility is a SCARY Thought

Halloween is just around the corner and I’m pretty psyched about the arrival of haunted houses and scary movie marathons. I’m not easily scared. I will watch The Shining without flinching; I was thrilled about the new season of American Horror Story starting, and one of the first things I do when visiting a new city is look for a good ghost tour. One thing that does have me frightened though (other than the ridiculous lines at Party City the weekend before Halloween) is the prospect that some States may not expand Medicaid eligibility in 2014.

The Affordable Care Act extends health coverage to 30 million currently uninsured Americans through tax credits to purchase private insurance and a major expansion of Medicaid eligibility to all qualified individuals under age 65 who have incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL) (about $30,000 for a family of four). The Medicaid eligibility expansion accounts for approximately half of the coverage gains under the new healthcare law. Read more »

Increasing Awareness of Women’s Health During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a fitting time for women to think about how aware we are of our health, the choices and challenges we face, and the options out there that help keep us healthy.

With medical advancements and increasing public awareness, we’ve come a long way in preventing and treating breast cancer, but it remains a devastating disease – breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death for women in this country.

Changes to our health care system are making it easier for women to access important preventive services and treatment for serious health issues like breast cancer. The new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, removes financial barriers to screening mammograms in both Medicare and new health insurance plans, making them available to millions of women with no cost-sharing requirement.

Last year, more than 6 million women got mammograms without co-pays through Medicare.

The Affordable Care Act makes other critical preventive services available to many women with no out-of-pocket costs. As of August 1, 2012, new plans are required to provide certain women’s preventive services without cost sharing as they enter their next coverage year. Read more »

Reflections on Title IX on Constitution Day

Today, Constitution Day, is a moment to take stock of the document that has served as the bedrock of our country for more than 220 years and the importance of constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court for women. This past Supreme Court term was a constitutional blockbuster, dealing with cases from preemption of immigration laws to the right to lie under the First Amendment. Of particular import to women was the decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

Most ACA supporters think of the decision in the health care cases as an unmitigated victory for uninsured Americans. However, on a 7-2 basis, the Court found that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which required states to expand Medicaid coverage to all adults under 133 percent of the poverty level as a condition of continuing to receive Medicaid funding, was unconstitutionally coercive, because a noncomplying state could lose all of its Medicaid funding. A majority of the Court remedied the violation by holding that the federal government could not condition all of a state’s Medicaid funding on the state’s expansion of eligibility, but only the additional Medicaid funding provided by the ACA. Many Supreme Court watchers posit there will be a wave of follow-up litigation to test the limits of other laws that are, like Medicaid, based on Congress’ authority under the Spending Clause to place conditions on federal funding to states. Read more »

What does birth control without co-pays mean for you?

What does birth control without co-pays mean for you?
Share Your Story
Tell us — what does it mean to you that you will get birth control with no co-pays or deductibles?
Share Your Story

Has cost ever kept you from using the method of birth control that's best for you? Has it forced you to make tough choices, like going without birth control or even delaying paying a bill so you can afford it?

Thanks to the health care law, new insurance plans are required to cover birth control and other women's preventive health services with no co-payments or deductibles at the start of their next plan year. As more health plans come under the law's reach, more and more women will be able to keep their wallets closed when they pick up their birth control.

Tell us — what does it mean to you that you will get birth control with no co-pays or deductibles? Read more »

The Poor College Girl’s Guide to Accessing Preventive Health Care (with Money Left Over for Books and Food)

This week, I’ve thought a lot about what I could do with an extra $720. Why? Because a few years ago, I was shelling out $60 a month in co-pays, which added up to $720 spent over the course of the year. For a student subsisting on a work-study job salary, this was pretty major. Read more »

The Reality of Birth Control Costs

A few months ago, I saw a post on Facebook saying that birth control only costs women $10 a month, so we don’t need to get it for free. This video blog has been percolating inside of me ever since. Let’s put aside the issue that the health care law is not providing free birth control (the law requires insurance plans to provide preventive services with no cost sharing), and talk about what the real cost of birth control is for women. The monthly costs of birth control—plus their annual visit with their ob/gyn to get their prescription—can add up to hundreds of dollars a year with health insurance. Watch my blog post and learn how the costs of birth control add up and what those costs mean for women and their families.

Read more »

Yes to Birth Control. No to Co-Pays.

Yes to Birth Control. No to Co-Pays.

Yes to Birth Control. No to Co-Pays.
Tell your Members of Congress you support women's access to preventive health services without co-pays or deductibles.
Take Action

Women's lives are about to get a little easier (and less expensive). Thanks to the health care law, today a provision goes into effect requiring birth control and other preventive services that women need be covered without a co-payment or a deductible! Over time, as an increasing number of new plans come under the law's reach, more women could have access to these services with no extra cost.

Tell your Members of Congress today how much this means to you and that you support women's access to preventive health services without co-pays or deductibles.

The preventive health services included in new plans are: well-woman visits, breastfeeding assistance and supplies, domestic violence counseling, screening for gestational diabetes, testing for high-risk strains of HPV, screening for sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and all FDA-approved methods of contraception. Read more »

Our Check *Was* in the Mail

Thanks, Obamacare!Remember when I told you about a great provision in the health care law requiring health insurance companies to spend your premium dollars on health care and not administrative costs or profits? My last blog post explains the whole deal.

An estimated 12 million Americans will receive rebates from health insurers totaling over $1 billion. And guess what? I got one! Well, sort of.

My health insurance company is CareFirst BlueChoice; it is the plan I receive as an employee of the National Women’s Law Center. A few weeks ago, I received a notice in the mail that CareFirst did not spend the legally required amount of premium dollars on care.

Check out the notice here. The accompanying letter says, “This letter is to inform you that CareFirst BlueChoice, Inc. will be rebating a portion of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act—the health reform law.” [Some lovingly call it ObamaCare] If a health plan spends too much on administrative costs, as CareFirst did, it has to pay a rebate. Maybe next year they will get their act together and just charge lower premiums, which would be good too. Read more »