Skip to contentNational Women's Law Center

Health Care

Transgender Health Care Needs Can't Be Ignored

A recent study on pregnancy in transgender men who had transitioned from female to male highlights the significant problems transgender people experience in obtaining appropriate and culturally competent health care. Many patients had to deal with rude or inappropriate treatment, ranging from improper pronoun use to outright refusals to provide care. One patient said that he was reported to protective services because, “A tranny had a baby.” 

Problems with transgender health care, however, aren’t limited to pregnancy. Health care providers often lack training and knowledge in how to treat transgender people and insurance companies refuse to pay for needed services. For example, health insurance companies refuse to pay for basic preventive services, like cervical cancer screenings for transgender men and prostate cancer screenings for transgender women. 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 »

Unexpected News from the Supreme Court Won’t Stop Health Care Enrollment

With eight days to go before health plan enrollment begins for 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States announced today that it will hear King v. Burwell in the Court’s next term. This case challenges the availability of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for people who sign up for health insurance through the federal Marketplace. Thirty-four states rely on the federal government to manage the health insurance marketplaces for their residents. This means that if the Court were to overturn the King decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, millions of women and their families would lose premium subsidies, and therefore access to affordable health insurance. Read more »

Governors: Get Your State Off This List

This week’s annual release of Census Bureau insurance data tells us that, once again, all states are not equal. Over 90 percent of women aged 18 to 64 in states like Massachusetts and Minnesota are insured. But, again this year, Texas leads the nation in the proportion of women without health insurance, with nearly one-third of women going without health coverage.

Here is the sad list of the worst states for women’s health insurance coverage: Read more »

New Health Insurance Data: A Revealing Look at Coverage Before The ACA

Today, the Census Bureau released new data about the number of Americans with health insurance. The Current Population Survey (CPS) offers a revealing look at Americans’ health coverage in 2013. The data does not yet reflect the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but provides a baseline to understand who had coverage and from where prior to full ACA implementation, setting us up for some interesting analysis next year.

In brief, too many women remained uninsured in 2013. Overall, 14 percent of women and girls lack health insurance coverage. For adult women 18 to 64 the proportion is even higher; 17 percent of women went without health insurance in 2013. Read more »

National Breastfeeding Month: Celebrating Moms, Babies, and the Affordable Care Act

It’s no accident that the US Breastfeeding Committee (“USBC”) chose August as National Breastfeeding Month. After all, it’s the most popular month to be born in the United States. This year the USBC kicked off #NBM14 by inviting Americans to share in #SixWords what breastfeeding means to them.

The facts are clear. Breastfeeding means: Read more »

Unaffordable Health Care By Any Other Name

Women make up a large majority of the low wage workforce — many without access to affordable health insurance . The Affordable Care Act was supposed to change that. However, for millions of women and their families, something called the “family glitch” puts help with insurance premiums out of reach. But it really isn’t a glitch  because the IRS could have interpreted the law differently.

If you have access to health insurance coverage outside the health insurance marketplace (if you have coverage through your employer or a public insurance program such as Medicaid), then you are not eligible for the health insurance tax credits. But there is a special rule for employment based coverage – if your employer offers coverage that is unaffordable or doesn’t provide enough coverage, then you can say no to your employer coverage and enroll in the marketplace with a health insurance tax credit (if you’re otherwise eligible for the tax credit). Read more »

Reproductive Health Care: Good for Women, Good for Families

Next week, advocates from across the country will meet at the White House to discuss issues that are important to working families. On the Center’s list of issues is access to safe and affordable reproductive health services. Reproductive health services are definitely important for a family’s physical health and well-being, since being able to plan and space pregnancies is good for the health of mothers and children, but reproductive health is also crucial for working families’ economic health and security.

When women can control their reproductive decision-making, their educational and professional opportunities and even their lifetime earnings can increase. One study found that women with access to contraception were more likely to be in college and had higher earnings long into their careers, while another [PDF] pointed to contraception as a reason for the narrowing of the wage gap. With access to safe reproductive health care, women are better able to achieve educational and professional goals and support their families and themselves, both emotionally and financially. Read more »

An Open Letter to Tennessee, From One Of Your Own

I love Tennessee. It’s where I grew up; running cross country through amazing forests and watching friends develop amazing musical talents. Life in Tennessee is relaxed, the people are so nice, and I relish each visit back to my home state, whether it is to take my kids to the new park downtown or to go Honky Tonkin with my best friend.

But there are times when I really get sad over Tennessee’s future – like refusing to expand Medicaid and efforts to amend the state Constitution in order to attack abortion access. I am only more troubled by the recent news that Tennessee has become the first state to outright criminalize women who illegally use a narcotic drug and experience a bad pregnancy outcome (if the baby being born is “addicted, is harmed, or dies because of the drug”).

Look, I get why people could support this law – they think it could stop drug using during pregnancy. As one bill co-sponsor explained: “we need to help [pregnant mothers] see the seriousness behind the offense and help them get the help they need.” Read more »

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 »