5 Reasons to Wish the ACA Happy Birthday
The coronavirus, COVID-19, has put a spotlight on the importance and need for a well-functioning public health system and health care access for all. Ten years ago, the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—better known to many as Obamacare—was an important first step toward that goal, especially with increasing the number of insured people. Below I highlight five big gains for women’s physical and economic health made possible by the ACA.
Note, if you or someone you know is uninsured and live in one of the states with a special enrollment period due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you may be able to get insured now.
As of December 2019, most insurance plans are required to provide 12 Women’s Preventive Services with no out-of-pocket costs. Zero, Zilch, None! The goal of this broad array of services—which includes well women visits; contraception, counseling, and follow-up care; counseling for STIs; screening for HIV, breast cancer, and interpersonal violence; breastfeeding services, and support and more—is to increase health across the lifespan.
And don’t forget the men in your life because the ACA is looking after their needs too. Share with them what is, and isn’t covered, when it comes to their sexual health.
An estimated 61.4 million women are eligible for the preventive health services mentioned above.
In a single year, women saved at least $1.4 billion (!) in out-of-pocket costs for birth control pills, thanks to the ACA’s birth control benefit (see #1 above). There’s also evidence that the provision is increasing the ability of women to obtain more effective birth control methods for those who want them.
While the birth control benefit is still being challenged in the courts, it remains the law of the land (a frequent refrain of ours these days). If you are having trouble accessing your birth control without a co-pay, head over to Cover Her hotline.
No pre-existing conditions can impact your ability to get insured. Before the ACA, having a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, an abnormal result on a PAP test, or pregnancy—yes, seriously pregnancy—could be enough for a private insurer to deny you coverage or charge you an increased premium. Needless to say, this is a very important provision for everyone. An estimated 67 million women and girls have a pre-existing condition and a recent Kaiser survey found nearly half of all non-elderly families have at least one adult with a pre-existing condition.
Between 2013 and 2018 the uninsured rate for women of reproductive age dropped a whopping 40% nationwide. The gains were much larger in states that expanded Medicaid than in those that didn’t (52% decrease in uninsured women v. 27%). And while there were big decreases in the uninsured rate for women of color, inequities remain—underscoring the need for continued action, not a reversal of these policies.
Unfortunately, these gains are at risk due to the two lawsuits pending before the Supreme Court (one on birth control and one on the entire ACA). That’s why it is more important than ever to make sure policymakers know you want and need the protections provided by the ACA. In addition, you can help us in our advocacy work by sharing with us how the ACA has afforded you the contraception that is right for you—and the difference it has made for you to pursue your life on your terms.