Even months after the passage of President Barack Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA), many Americans are still confused about how the law will affect them and how new regulations will improve healthcare. For communities, like women and LGBT people, who often experience healthcare discrimination or have higher healthcare disparities, these doubts can be doubly concerning. Now known colloqually as “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act covers a variety of important topics and institutes necessary changes. A primer below, with information compiled from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fact sheets.
Women have healthcare needs that are both important and unique, for themselves and their families. The ACA provides important new benefits for women.
The new benefits include protections that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to women. Believe it or not, pregnancy is considered a “pre-existing condition” by some insurance companies. When the full act takes effect in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to their customers due to any pre-existing conditions. Some insurance companies also charged women more for healthcare premiums when compared to men. In 2014, such discriminatory pricing will no longer be legal.
The act also allows women to receive preventive care without the stress or burden of copays. Such services include mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits, among others. The no-cost preventive services benefit applies to all health plans joined after March 23, 2010.
Many of the same protections offered to women generally will also greatly benefit LGBT people. In much the same way that women have unique health needs, LGBT people often find themselves facing higher risks of cancer, STDs, depression and other medical circumstances. At the same time, also like women, LGBT people face increased obstacles to quality care and discrimination from healthcare providers and insurers.
By ending many discriminatory practices and forbidding insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, LGBT people will have expanded access to healthcare. For those LGBT people who are infected with HIV/AIDS, the pre-existing rule will come in especially handy. The act also ends lifetime benefit limits and places restrictions on annual dollar limits imposed by insurance companies.
LGBT people will also benefit from expanded preventative care and new federal funding will help increase intervention programs addressing important LGBT health issues like tobacco use, obesity and HIV-related health disparities. : :
info: You can learn more about the new healthcare act at healthcare.gov.