Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act is a victory for women and particularly significant for economically vulnerable women and their children. In the coming years it will be an important tool in improving their health and economic security.
Under the Affordable Care Act:
- Women will pay lower health care costs. According to healthcare.gov, “before the law, women could be charged more for individual insurance policies simply because of their gender. A 22-year-old woman could be charged 150% the premium that a 22-year-old man paid.”
- Insurance companies can’t deny coverage to women who have pre-existing conditions like cancer or to women who have been pregnant.
- Women will have the freedom to choose their primary care provider, OB-GYB or pediatrician in their health plan’s network without a referral.
- Women will be able to receive preventative care without co-pays. Services like mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits won’t have to be paid out of pocket.
- Health care plans will include maternity care.
- Medicaid coverage will be expanded to cover families up to 133 percent of poverty and health insurance subsidies will be provided to help pay premiums and out-of-pocket costs for families with incomes up to 400 percent of poverty.
While health insurance coverage is important for us all, it is especially critical to low-income women and their families. Women with incomes below the poverty line are much less likely to be insured than others and women of color are also at a disadvantage when it comes to coverage. Latinas have the lowest levels of coverage in our region – in Prince George’s County, for example, fewer than seven in ten Latinas have health insurance.
The Supreme Court’s ruling made me so optimistic. Days like this make all of our aspirations seem possible and put us one step closer to our vision: a country where everyone – regardless of their gender, race or income – has access to the resources and opportunities that will enable them to thrive.
Nicky Goren is president of Washington Area Women’s Foundation.