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Tuesday, 3rd August 2010

Thirty Million Women to Benefit from Health Reform Law, Including Up to 15 Million Who Will Gain New Subsidized Coverage

Thirty Million Women to Benefit from Health Reform Law, Including Up to 15 Million Who Will Gain New Subsidized Coverage
Source: The Commonwealth Fund

Thirty million women will benefit from the new health reform law over the next decade, either through new or strengthened insurance coverage, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund. In the first analysis of its kind, the authors report that the law will stabilize and reverse the growing exposure to health costs that women now experience by subsidizing health insurance for up to 15 million currently uninsured women, and strengthening existing coverage for 14.5 million women who are considered underinsured—those who have health coverage that does not adequately protect them from high medical expenses. Provisions important to women will expand eligibility for Medicaid; provide subsidies to purchase insurance; limit out-of-pocket spending; prevent insurers from charging higher premiums or denying coverage based on health status or gender; and require new plans to cover maternity and newborn care. These provisions will also help uninsured women who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid or premium subsidies gain comprehensive coverage.

Although women are just as likely to be uninsured as men, their health care needs leave them more vulnerable to high health care costs and problems related to loss of health insurance. Because insurance carriers consider women, particularly those of reproductive age, higher risk than men, women report greater difficulties gaining coverage in the individual insurance market and are charged much higher premiums for the same benefits than men of the same age. Further, most individual policies do not cover pregnancy.

Another important provision that will help an estimated 100,000 uninsured women gain coverage is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) to provide temporary coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions who are uninsured during 2010 to 2013. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia began enrollment in PCIPs in July, and 12 will begin to enroll adults in August; in the 21 states without a PCIP the federal government began operation of a PCIP July 1st.

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