Women have always had to fight harder for equality when it comes to health care, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) they’ve had a much easier time accessing care that meets both their health and financial needs.
In 2016, the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that promotes health and wellness, conducted their Biennial Health Insurance Survey that measured just how much access to coverage has improved for women because of the ACA. Before the ACA was passed, the organization reported that one-third of women had a difficult time purchasing insurance on their own.
During that time women who did not receive coverage from their employers had relatively few options for government funded insurance because in most most states Medicaid was limited to pregnant women, low-income families, and people with disabilities. Also, women could be denied coverage based on preexisting conditions, charged higher premiums than men or had specific health needs — like maternity care— excluded from their plans.
On average, women visit doctors more often than men throughout their lives— particularly during their reproductive years— so making medical care more expensive for women would benefit an insurance company. Women are also more likely than men to experience challenges affording medical fees, creating a problem that resembles a snake eating its own tail. In a 2007 report, the Commonwealth Fund found that 52 percent of American women had problems accessing care because of cost and 45 percent of women reported being in medical debt.
Due to the ACA, young women-- ages 19-34-- have made the greatest coverage gains since 2010. Statistics from the Commonwealth Fund show that in 2010 25 percent of young women weren’t insured, which has dropped significantly to 14 percent in 2016. The law also states that people cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions, allows young women to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 and mandates that insurers include maternity care.
In 2017, the political landscape has made women’s health care into an even more divisive issue. Earlier this year, President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services rolled back a major part of the Affordable Care Act that required employers to cover the total cost of their employees birth control regardless of the company’s any moral or religious stance. Planned Parenthood, an organization that President Trump has vowed to defund on multiple occasions, has projected that at least 62 million women are now at risk of losing contraceptive care.
The best way to fight federal attempts to sabotage open enrollment is to find out if you qualify for coverage, and enroll if you do . Then, it's all about getting the word out about open enrollment to your friends and family. Get America Covered makes this easy , with shareable social graphics, easy to understand fact sheets, and an email list serve.