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Health Insurance

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 »

Seven Million Reasons to Worry about King v. Burwell

King v. Burwell is the most recent case attacking the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to head to the Supreme Court.  And it’s putting seven million women at risk of losing their access to affordable health insurance. 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 »

We All Need Schedules That Work

Today is my little brother’s birthday. It’s a big birthday, but not for good reasons. Today, TJ turns 26, which means that he can no longer be on my parents’ health insurance. He works as a bartender at a few different places and does not have health insurance through his employer. Last week, he and I sat down to figure out what plan he should sign up for on the healthcare exchange. And things got complicated.

Because TJ’s shifts and hours change with such frequency, he has a really hard time budgeting. He could not tell me for sure how much he could afford to pay for health insurance in any given month. He couldn’t tell me which subsidies he might qualify for. This type of instability is a common problem for workers in low-wage hourly jobs. In one study [PDF], between 20 and 30 percent of low-wage workers reported a reduction in hours or a layoff when work was slow. And another found [PDF] that for 59 percent of retail employees employed by one major retailer, either the shifts or the days they worked changed each week. 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 »

The Story Behind the Numbers: Health Insurance

Tomorrow, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the United States in 2013. As we get ready to crunch numbers, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at what these numbers will tell us about health insurance.

Where does this data come from?

Once a year, the Census Bureau includes additional questions on health coverage and income within their monthly Current Population Survey. This supplement is known as the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The ASEC questions regarding health insurance explore whether each member of the respondent household had insurance coverage throughout the previous calendar year, and if so, what kind of coverage. According to the Census Bureau, the ASEC is the most widely used source of data on health insurance coverage in the U.S. 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 »

It Works! New Data on Health Insurance and the New Health Care Law

If you had any doubt that the new health care law is helping women and their families get health insurance – and given the Chicken Little-level hysteria that seems to still affect critics of the new law, you can be forgiven for harboring a few doubts – a new survey released yesterday should calm those fears. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate for adults in states that have implemented both major coverage components of the Affordable Care Act has fallen, on average, 2.5 percentage points in the first three months of full implementation. These 21 states and the District of Columbia, which expanded coverage through Medicaid and established their own health insurance marketplaces (including those running “partnership” marketplaces), have widened the gap in average rates of uninsurance between themselves and states that have not taken both of these steps. Read more »