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Health Care

Governor of Maine Denies Healthcare for 70,000 Mainers

Last week, Governor LePage blocked health coverage to hardworking Maine residents by vetoing a bill that would have provided Medicaid to 70,000 people.

Maine is one of 24 states that have not taken federal funding to cover more people in Medicaid. Under the health care law, women and their families in every state are eligible for tax credits to help them afford health insurance, depending on their family income. In states that accept federal money to expand coverage through Medicaid, people with lower incomes will also have affordable coverage. But in states that turn down the money, people with lower incomes (and those who do not meet other strict eligibility criteria) will not get any financial help for health insurance costs. That’s the “coverage gap” too many women and families are facing right now. Read more »

Health Insurance — A Rite of Spring for 2014

The start of spring brings some seasonal maternal responsibilities. My daughter is six, so these tasks include finding the shin guards and cleats that she dumped in a closet after the last soccer game last fall – ideally before the first spring soccer game, not after. Determining if she has outgrown all, or only half, of her warmer-weather clothes. Helping her finally ride her bike with confidence, and without training wheels.

I expect that as kids get older, these springtime responsibilities might change a bit. Maybe I will need to nudge her to keep working on a year-end project or to practice before the spring piano recital. Or to use some caution and common sense during a spring break trip to the beach. Read more »

Survivors of Domestic Violence Gain Access to Health Insurance Tax Credits

Today, the Administration took important steps to ensure that survivors of domestic violence can access affordable health care. Many survivors of domestic violence have been unable to access the health insurance subsidies because they file separate tax returns from their abusive spouse. As of today, these individuals have access to a special enrollment period until May 31 to enroll in coverage and access the health insurance subsidies [PDF].

There is still more to be done. Women in other complicated circumstances are still unable to access the health insurance subsidies. For example, a woman who was abandoned and has no contact with her spouse will not be able to file a joint tax return. Some married couples have been separated for years without any formal legal separation or divorce and may no longer be in contact. Earlier this week, the National Women’s Law Center sent a letter signed by 49 organizations asking for survivors of domestic violence, abandoned spouses and individuals in other complicated circumstances to have access to the health insurance subsidies.   Read more »

7 Days, 7 Reasons: Why You Should Sign Up For Affordable Health Coverage

This is the last week of open enrollment for the new healthcare marketplaces. That means you only have 7 days to sign up for an affordable health plan and #getcovered. So I suggest heading over to healthcare.gov right now, before it’s too late. But if you need more convincing, I’ve got 7 reasons why you should sign up for affordable health coverage before the March 31st deadline.

  1. It’s cheap: Duke may have lost, messing up everyone’s bracket, but with subsidies available to help you purchase coverage, you can afford to buy health insurance AND pay into your office March Madness pool. Seriously. 6 out of 10 Americans can get coverage for less than $100 a month.
  2. You’ll Get Preventive Services without Cost Sharing: Admit it, you love getting things you don’t have to pay extra for. Gift bags at the makeup counter, samples at Costco, free shipping from Amazon… And it’s even better when it’s something you actually need.  If you sign up for coverage you’ll be able to get important services like well women visits, pap smears, STD screenings, and contraception with no out-of-pocket costs.

Obamacare and Taxes: Two Important Tips for Avoiding a Headache (and a Wallet Ache!) Next Year

Did you recently sign up for health insurance through your state’s health care marketplace?  If so, hurray! I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why having affordable health insurance is a great thing. (If you or a loved one doesn’t currently have health insurance, and you haven’t signed up through the Marketplace yet, it’s time to start shopping—the open enrollment period ends in a little over a month, on March 31.)

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 »

Behind the Numbers: Women's Enrollment in Health Insurance

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.

Valentines from Mom

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 »

Confused About Stroke Guidelines and Birth Control? Obamacare Can Help. (No, Really, It Can.)

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 »

Talking Turkey and the ACA

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 »

Five Things Women Should Know About President Obama's Promise

As the Affordable Care Act moves closer to full implementation — including the application of new standards for health insurance plans on January 1, 2014 — some critics of the health care law have seized on recent insurance plan notices as evidence that the law won't work. These notices, issued by individual-market insurance plans and sent to their enrollees, inform plan subscribers that their health insurance plan does not meet the standards of the ACA, and they will need to choose a new plan that does meet these requirements. These critics charge that the law does not live up to President Obama’s promise that "if you like your plan, you can keep it." Here are five things to keep in mind as the controversy swirls around you: 

  1. New plan requirements improve coverage

    Starting January 1, health plans sold on the individual market must cover all essential health benefits — including maternity care, preventive care, mental health treatment and prescription drugs. Today, policies in this market often skimp on these critical services. For example, NWLC's own research demonstrates that only 12 percent of these plans cover maternity care, while coverage for mental health and prescription drugs is also spotty

  2. Most people don't "keep" their coverage in the individual market 

    In most states, health plans don't have to renew your policy year after year in the individual market — if you get sick, your plan can kick you out once your 12-month contract ends. And lots of people buy coverage in this market for only a short period of time — leaving the market once they receive an offer of employer-sponsored coverage or qualify for Medicare, perhaps. One estimate is that only 17 percent of subscribers purchase the same policy for two years or longer. 

  3. The whole point of the health care law is to reform the individual market 

    Ok, this is just one of several major goals for the law — but it is right up there with helping people afford coverage and controlling the growth of health care costs.