Women benefit from health reform

This comes from Sen. Lincoln. Yes, that is the same Blanche Lincoln who has done everything possible to kill the “public option.” Despite her shameless grandstanding, this is a good summary for women.

Lincoln: After Decades of Gender Discrimination, Health Insurance Reform Will Treat Women as Equals

In a study of available maternity coverage in the individual market, the National Women’s Law Center found that 93 percent of the individual health insurance plans available to women in Little Rock did not cover maternity care.

As a result of “gender rating” by Arkansas insurance companies, women are often charged more than men for the exact same coverage.

Washington – Arkansas women will benefit tremendously now that the Senate health insurance reform legislation is law, U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln said today. Many of the bill’s insurance industry reforms will end the discrimination that has endangered the health and lives of women to benefit insurance companies’ bottom lines.

“For far too long, the unique health care needs of our women and mothers have been used as a way for insurance companies to enhance their own profits, or to deny care to women altogether,” Lincoln said. “That comes to an end now, with this new health insurance reform law. In Arkansas and around the country, the unfairly inflated cost of health insurance for women has prevented many from being able to access care. And, many insurance plans in Arkansas have not even covered the benefits that women really need, like maternity care. This is unacceptable, and I am proud to have voted for the Senate health insurance reform plan that will correct these inequities and treat women fairly.”

One way that many uninsured or underinsured women seek health care is through Community Health Centers in Arkansas. The health insurance reform law makes an immediate and substantial investment in the 12 Federally Qualified Centers — with 68 sites — all across Arkansas.

“I am very thankful and content with all the services the Community Clinic at St. Francis House provided me,said Beatriz, a 60-year-old patient regarding her care at the Springdale clinic. “I had my breast exam at your clinic and they found a mass in both of my breasts. I received an order for a mammogram very soon to determine if something was wrong. [The clinic] brought me in and explained in detail my diagnosis, cancer. In a prompt manner I was sent to the surgeon for a consult. I had a bilateral mastectomy. I am still followed by my surgeon. I am doing chemotherapy. I do not have words to thank you for all you have done for me. I am still here thanks to you and I believe that God has given me a second chance.”

In addition to funding existing services that benefit women who have difficulty accessing affordable insurance, the health insurance reform law makes substantial changes that will force insurance companies to treat women as equals.

Women Won’t Be Charged More

In Arkansas, insurers are allowed to consider an individual’s gender when setting premium rates in the individual health insurance market, in which people purchase coverage directly from insurance companies. As a result of this “gender rating,” women are often charged more than men for the exact same coverage.

Cost-related barriers often cause women to forgo care. Between 2007 and 2008, 22 percent of women in Arkansas were uninsured.

Gender rating has also been allowed in Arkansas’s group health insurance market, which is how many businesses obtain coverage for their employees. Though federal law will not allow employers to charge individual male and female employees different rates for coverage, insurance companies in Arkansas are allowed to consider how many women a business employs when determining the business’ overall premium costs. This also means that mostly female workplaces – such as child care centers, home health agencies, or nonprofits – can end up paying significantly more for coverage.

Health insurance reform will impose strict regulations on insurance providers, including the elimination of gender rating.

The law will also put a cap on what insurance companies can force women to pay in out-of-pocket expenses, such as co-pays and deductibles, eliminate lifetime limits on how much insurance companies cover if a woman gets sick, and restrict the use of annual limits.

Women Won’t Be Denied Coverage For Unique Health Care Needs

Paying more for their care is not the only inequity women have faced in Arkansas’s insurance market. Insurance companies have also been allowed to reject a woman’s health insurance application because of her medical history or her current health status. In addition, insurance companies in Arkansas can exclude coverage for certain “pre-existing” conditions. For example, if a woman has previously had a Cesarean section, insurers may refuse to pay for future C-sections or reject her application altogether.

In Arkansas, one-third of all births were by C-Section in 2006; thousands of women could have critical treatments denied or lack coverage altogether because insurance companies have been able to discriminate in this way. Insurance reform means that companies can no longer exclude women from coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

Essential Benefits for Women Will Be Covered

Maternity benefits are not often covered in health insurance plans in the individual market, even though data suggests that prenatal care can prevent future medical expenses. For example, a $1 investment in prenatal care for a woman with diabetes generates $5 in savings from reduced complications.

In a study of available maternity coverage in the individual market, the National Women’s Law Center found that 93 percent of the individual health insurance plans available to women in Little Rock did not cover maternity care. The Senate Health Insurance Reform law will ensure coverage of prevention and basic health services for women, including maternity benefits and preventive care, like mammograms.

More Affordable Insurance Choices Statewide Will Benefit Arkansas Women

Because health insurance reform extends Medicaid eligibility to people with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), more low-income women and their families will have access to this program.

Under this expansion, up to 75,200 uninsured women in Arkansas will be newly eligible for Medicaid coverage.

Low and middle-income families will also be better able to afford health insurance with new subsidies that will be given to families with incomes between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Approximately 142,000 women in Arkansas will be eligible for a health insurance subsidy to help with premiums and out of pocket costs.

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About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

One Response to Women benefit from health reform

  1. Pingback: Enjoy the Benefit of Affordable Contract Phones With Vodafone Network | Cell Phone Choice Blog

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