Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more than 45 million women – including 20.4 million women with private health insurance and 24.7 million women with Medicare – are eligible to receive recommended preventive services at no extra cost, according to data released March 20 by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Under the law, most women with private insurance will now have access to preventive health services such as mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, flu shots and regular well-baby and well-child visits with no cost-sharing. Beginning in August of this year, many health plans must also cover other preventive services, such as well-woman visits, domestic violence screening, and breastfeeding supplies at no extra costs.
Since the healthcare reform law has gone into effect, more than one million young adult women have gained health insurance coverage, and another 13 million more women will gain coverage by 2016, according to data highlighted in the March 20 issue brief by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
Starting in 2014, and estimated 8.7 million more women who currently buy coverage in the individual market will gain maternity coverage, as part of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for plans to cover essential health benefits. Currently, 62 percent of individual market enrollees do not have maternity coverage.
Additionally, the ASPE issue brief notes that more than 2 million women in Medicare have saved $1.2 billion on the cost of prescription drugs in the "donut hole” coverage gap. The Affordable Care Act helps seniors and people with disabilities who have Medicare pay less for their prescription drugs in the donut hole, which will be closed by 2020.
The health reform law also aims to cut down on disparities in health coverage among men and women. Beginning in 2014 insurance companies in the individual and small-group health insurance market may no longer charge higher rates due to gender or health status. Currently, many insurance companies in the individual market charge women higher premiums than men. For example, a 25-year-old woman enrolled in a health plan that does not cover maternity care may pay as much as 81 percent more than a 25-year-old man enrolled in the same plan. Similarly, a 40-year-old non-smoking woman could pay up to 57 percent more than a 40-year-old male smoker in the same plan.