The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, has a lot to offer young women. The law makes important changes to how insurance carriers can determine rates, who they are required to accept for coverage, the services they must cover and a range of other things designed to protect consumers, especially women. If you are a woman under the age of 26 who wants to remain on your parent’s health insurance plan, for example, the new law requires that the carrier continue to cover you. Prior to the ACA, most insurance carriers terminated coverage of adult children at the age of 21. This aspect of the law applies to both men and women. Other aspects of the law, however, are designed specifically to protect women. Here are six additional ways you will benefit from the ACA:
1. Free preventative care: This part of the law mandates that insurance providers offer free screenings for things like diabetes and HIV. Preventative care also includes regular medical check-ups, provided with no required co-pay. You will also have free access to any FDA approved method of birth control (unless your insurance is provided through an employer who has claimed a religious exemption to birth control coverage).
2. Maternity coverage: Many people are not aware that prior to the ACA only 12 percent of insurance carriers provided maternity care to subscribers. Going forward, under the ACA, all insurance carriers must provide this care, along with other mandated services like hospitalization, prescription coverage and mental health services.
3. No More Gender Bias: You cannot be charged more than a man for health insurance. Another little known fact is that prior to Obamacare, insurance carriers in almost every state were allowed to charge women higher rates than men. Starting in 2014 this practice will be illegal across the country.
4. Preexisting Conditions: If you have a preexisting condition like asthma or diabetes, you cannot be denied coverage. Even if you have never been able to purchase insurance because of your health condition, under the ACA, you will now have access to the care and treatment you need. You also cannot be penalized with higher rates or exclusion from certain parts of the plan, because you have an existing medical condition.
5. Breastfeeding moms: Under the ACA your employer must provide you with reasonable accommodations throughout the day, including regular break times and a private location (a bathroom does not count) where you can express breast milk. This part of the law first went into effect in 2011, but it’s important for all mom’s to know what their rights are under this portion of the healthcare law. Your health plan also will provide breast feeding equipment and supplies without a co-pay.
6. Cost: Starting October 1st, a variety of healthcare plans are available to preview online. You can get help with enrollment by scheduling a visit to meet with a healthcare navigator or you can enroll by calling 1-800-318-2596, to speak with a trained representative. While different plans have different rates, low income individuals and families can receive government discounts which vary according to the amount of money you earn annually. The lower your income, the bigger the discount. If you are an individual who earns less than $16,000 a year, you may be eligible for Medicaid, even if you have never qualified before.
* A note about fines: You may have heard that if you choose not to purchase an insurance plan you will be charged a fine at the end of the year. With all of the misinformation going around about Obamacare fines, it’s important that you know the facts. The fine only applies if you are an individual who earns more than $46,000 ($96,000 family) a year. If you earn above that amount and still choose not to buy health insurance, your fee will be $95 for the first year, or about $8 a month. You will also be required to pay for all of your own medical expenses. If you make less than the specified amounts, you will not be charged a fee, even if you don’t purchase health insurance. You will still be required to pay for your own medical expenses throughout the year, however.
Watch: President Obama and Former President Bill Clinton talk healthcare. “The same people who have fought this thing tooth and nail, through the Congress and through the courts etc… are trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal.”