Women's health town hall discusses benefits of ACA
As women’s health issues have been in the spotlight in recent months and as the healthcare law hangs in the balance waiting for a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Obama administration is in high gear to promote the law’s benefits.
During an interactive women’s health town hall meeting at the White House on Thursday, members of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other women leaders in Washington touted the ways in which the Affordable Care Act benefits the health of women and their families.
While some aspects of the law impact a small percentage of women who have individual insurance plans, other parts of the law may have a larger impact through preventive services coverage.
As Judy Waxman, vice president of the National Women’s Law Center, pointed out during the town hall meeting, insurance coverage for a number of preventive services that improve care for women will begin going into effect on Aug. 1, including well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, counseling for sexually transmitted diseases and breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling.
Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, noted that the ACA makes it illegal to withhold coverage from someone due to a pre-existing condition or to charge women more than men because of their gender.
Sebelius said that in the past insurance companies could deny women coverage because of anything from being a breast cancer survivor to delivering a baby by C-section to being a victim of domestic violence. "Now let’s say you were lucky and healthy," she said. "Even then, insurers could charge women up to 50 percent more than men just for being women. Essentially, this meant that being a woman was, in itself, a pre-existing condition. One study found that this disparity cost women $1 billion a year.”
What must be done now, Sebelius said, is to make sure more women understand their rights and the new benefits.