Top 10 Obamacare Benefits at Stake for Women


Written by Jessica Arons, Lucy Panza

The Supreme Court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare.” This landmark piece of legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama drastically reforms the way health insurance works in our country. Below we outline 10 reasons why, as stated in the Center for American Progress report “Women and Obamacare,” women in America have so much riding on the Supreme Court’s decision.

1. Obamacare guarantees coverage of preventive services with no cost sharing. Preventive care promotes health and saves money. Yet many preventive care services are out of women’s reach due to high co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance. More than 50 percent of women have delayed seeking medical care due to cost, and one-third of women report forgoing basic necessities to pay for health care. But under the health reform law, insurers are now required to cover recommended preventive services such as mammograms, Pap smears, and well-baby care without cost sharing. More than 45 million women have already taken advantage of these services. And starting this August more services, including contraception, gestational diabetes screening, and breastfeeding supports, will be added to the list of preventive care that must be covered at no additional cost.

2. Maternity care will be required in new insurance plans. Coverage for maternity care—health care that only women need—is routinely excluded in the individual insurance market. Only 12 percent of plans sold in the individual market even offer maternity coverage, which is frequently inadequate because of waiting periods or deductibles that can be as high as the cost of the birth itself. But once Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014, about 8.7 million women will have guaranteed access to maternity care in all new individual and small group plans.

3. Women will no longer be denied insurance coverage for gender-related reasons. In today’s insurance market, it is common for insurers to refuse to cover women because of gender-based “pre-existing conditions,” such as having had a Cesarean section or being the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. Thankfully, this practice will be outlawed under Obamacare in 2014. In the meantime, adults with pre-existing conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months can purchase affordable coverage through temporary Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans.

4. Women will no longer be charged more for their insurance coverage just for being women. Under a practice known as “gender rating,” insurers currently charge women higher premiums than men for identical health benefits. As a result, women now pay $1 billion more than men each year for the same health plans in the individual market. As of 2014, however, under the Affordable Care Act, gender rating will become illegal in all new individual and small group plans.

5. Women have more control over their health care. Already, women no longer need a referral to see their obstetrician-gynecologist thanks to Obamacare. And they get to choose their primary care physician and their child’s pediatrician from their plan’s list of participating providers.

6. Women will gain better access to affordable health insurance. Starting in 2014 women and their families, as well as small businesses, will receive tax credits on an income-based sliding scale to help purchase insurance coverage. This will help individuals who earn up to $43,000 per year and up to $92,200 for families of four. Also in 2014 up to 10.3 million women will gain insurance coverage when Medicaid expands its income eligibility to include people with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level—less than $15,000 for individuals and about $31,809 for a family of four in 2011. The health law also eliminates Medicaid’s categorical requirements, so that low-income women who meet the income requirements can be enrolled even if they have no children and are not pregnant.

7. Insurance companies can no longer place limits on the amount of money they’ll spend on covered medical expenses. Women are more likely than men to suffer from a chronic condition, and an unforeseen medical emergency or a chronic illness can cause an insured person to rapidly reach a coverage cap in their insurance plan, leaving enrollees to fend for themselves, sometimes with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills. But under Obamacare lifetime coverage caps have been eliminated and annual limits are being phased out. Approximately 39.5 million women have already benefited from the ban on lifetime caps.

8. Women and their families benefit from critical consumer protections in Obamacare. Because women use health care services at higher rates on behalf of themselves and their families, ensuring just insurance practices is of critical importance. The Affordable Care Act has already eliminated the practice of “rescission,” when an insurance policy ends the moment a beneficiary gets sick. The health law also requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on actually providing health care, as opposed to administrative costs, or pay enrollees a rebate. Policyholders and employers will receive approximately $1.3 billion in premium rebates this year alone.

9. Women in marginalized communities are seeing reforms that respond to their needs. Women of color, lesbian and bisexual women, and transgender people are disproportionately uninsured and subject to higher rates of health disparities. Obamacare is making critical strides in providing vulnerable women with quality health care through increased access to insurance coverage, increased funding for community health centers, promoting health literacy and cultural competency, prohibiting discrimination in the health insurance market, and improving data collection. For instance, already an estimated 5.5 million African Americans, 6.1 million Latinos, 2.7 million Asians, and 0.3 million Native Americans, many of them women, have received preventive service coverage with no cost sharing under the health reform law.

10. Mothers have peace of mind, knowing that their children have health insurance. Obamacare prohibits insurers from denying coverage to children under age 19 because of pre-existing conditions. And adult children can now stay on a parent’s plan up to age 26, an especially helpful provision in this tough economy, where finding a job with benefits is challenging. Young women in particular report delaying needed health care because of high costs. To date, 2.5 million young adults have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Obamacare is a lifeline for women and their families. Women cannot afford to go back to a world where they pay more for less health care coverage, are denied preventive and essential health care services, and are treated like pre-existing conditions. A ruling that strikes down this important law would not only undo decades of precedent, it would have a devastating effect on the health and well-being of millions of women. Women have gained too much from Obamacare to lose it now.

This post was originally published by the Center for American Progress.


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If the Affordable Care Act is Overturned, Women Lose

If Obamacare Fails, Can We Talk About Single-Payer Health Care?

Happy Birthday, Romneycare!


Photo from Steve Rhodes via flickr


cecily w.
cecily w5 years ago

First, the "elephant in the room"--the provision for no-fee-to-recipient contraceptives is one of the most vulnerable provisions of the ACA. Providing this service will benefit ALL Americans because more than 50% of U.S. pregnancies are unintended and U.S. population growth is too high. (High population growth is exacerbating many of our other problems.) Right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the MONETARY costs of child abuse in the U.S. is $124 BILLION per year.

The Affordable Care Act was carefully crafted to be fair to both consumers (all of us) and to the health insurance industry. (BTW, covering pre-existing conditions and offering preventive services SAVES money in the long run.) IF the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act--it will be time for U.S. citizens to revolt and demand single payer. If single payer is necessary, the health insurance industry, in its current incarnation, will cease to exist.

cecily w.
cecily w5 years ago

Tonya: Browse Medicaid for your state; there are differences.

Evelyn M.
Evelyn M5 years ago

Well said Gene J. Please accept this in lieu of a green star.

Tammy S.
Tsmmy S5 years ago

I know a lot of people who are against Health care reform but of those who are against it I don't know of any who have actually read the actual legislative changes which by the way is no easy read.

Which part of this is "bad" for America requiring insurance companies to spend 80% on actual health care instead of administrative cost" or is it the part about including those with per-existing conditions which includes every one who live long enough to acquire one

Once I read the actual changes as it appears in law I was more in favor of health care reform but not just because it benefits women but because it makes insurance carriers more accountable for their covered services, deductibles and eliminates annual and life time ceiling.

For those against 'Obomacare" do your selves and the rest of the country a favor and actually READING the law - if for no other reason than to be capable of arguing against it intelligently.

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Ira L.
Ellie L5 years ago

Any woman who votes against this healthcare law is either deranged or brainwashed by the lying liars at Fox." Obamacares" is the best thing to happen since sliced bread! DON'T BELIEVE THE GOP LIES AND THEIR DIRTY TRICKS WITH BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING GOOD ABOUT AMERICA.

James Klug
James Klug5 years ago

@Stephen B - Your comment about Obamacare taking $500 Billion from Medicare is completely false. Here's a link to where you can read about it for yourself - and learn about other false claims being made about it. ( If it won't post, simply go to and enter "Obamacare takes money from Medicare".

Peter G.
Peter G.5 years ago

In reality if this law had been in effect 20 years ago my wife of 17 years would be by all chances alive today. She passed away at age 36 from Breast Cancer and Pre Existing Conditions awaiting Chemo , She left behind two sons ages 7 and 11 that were scared for life by her death. Keep this law and vote anyone out of office that wants to abolish any health care laws to protect the people.

Peter G.
Peter G.5 years ago

In reality if this law had been in effect 20 years ago my wife of 17 years would be by all chances alive today. She passed away at age 36 from Breast Cancer and Pre Existing Conditions awaiting Chemo , She left behind two sons ages 7 and 11 that were scared for life by her death. Keep this law and vote anyone out of office that wants to abolish any health care laws to protect the people.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago