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Affordable Care Act delivers significant benefits for women, research finds

A greater proportion of women were able to find affordable access to acute and preventive services, as well as insurance coverage.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

The rate of health insurance coverage and access to affordable acute and preventive care services improved for women after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, finds a new study appearing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

After full implementation of the healthcare law in 2014, a greater proportion of women in low- and middle-income groups were able to find affordable access to acute and preventive services, as well as insurance coverage, and women in all groups saw more preventative screenings and influenza immunization.

IMPACT

Prior to the ACA, women faced a host of challenges that prevented about a third of them from obtaining affordable insurance and care. The ACA addressed many of the inequities, including gender rating (where women were charged higher insurance premiums than men), denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy), and lack of coverage for services/prescriptions, including maternity care and contraceptives.

Before the law's implementation, 40 percent of low-income survey respondents were uninsured. With the ACA's more affordable options, the uninsured rate for low-income women dropped to 17 percent in 2014 and 11 percent in 2016.

More than four percent of the lowest income group were more likely to have visited a physician within a year in 2014-2017 than earlier in the study period. Increases of three to seven percent were seen for the other preventive care screenings and inoculations for the corresponding groups during the same period.

Notably, there were increases in blood pressure checks, cholesterol screenings, and flu shots across all income groups after the ACA's policies were in effect.

THE TREND

In 2018, during open enrollment, 8.4 million consumers enrolled in the federal health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act coverage, based on figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In comparison, 8.7 million people enrolled the year prior.

The numbers show a strong interest in ACA coverage, despite the 3 percent drop in enrollment over last year. One reason is that a good economy and job market means more consumers may have employer health coverage. When open enrollment began on November 1, there were more than two million jobs added to the economy compared to 2017, CMS said in January.
 

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com