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The Affordable Care Act: #HealthcareWorks

The Affordable Care Act is the single biggest advancement in women’s health in a generation, and in a historic ruling, the Supreme Court decided to uphold the law.  It’s been three years since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) —which improves access to affordable, quality health care for millions — was passed and already more than 45 million women are receiving preventive care without co-pays.  With the decision to uphold the law, the number of women and families who will benefit from this will only increase. 

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As a health care provider whose doctors and nurses serve nearly three million people every year through its nearly 800 affiliate health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood is committed to expanding access to affordable care. Here are seven reasons why we are celebrating the Affordable Care Act.  

1.    45 Million More Women Have Received Preventive Care without Co-payssupreme_court_card_45mil-2252.png
The numbers don't lie. It's been three years, and 20.4 million women with private health insurance have already received care they previously had to pay for. In addition 24.7 million women covered under Medicare can now receive additional preventive services without cost-sharing. That's more than 27,000 women every single day receiving coverage for preventive services, such as well-woman exams, mammograms, and Pap tests

2.    Increasing Access to Contraception
In a time when many are trying to restrict access to comprehensive reproductive services, the Affordable Care Act increases access to contraception for women. Starting in August 2012, under the ACA, insurance companies and employers (with the exception of churches and other places of worship) must supreme_court_card_600dollar-225.pngcover contraception without any additional co-pays. It's no surprise that this is one of the most popular benefits of the health reform law — maybe it's because birth control use is nearly universal. Ninety-nine percent of all sexually experienced women and 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women have used it at some point in their lives. Not to mention the fact that 58 percent of women who use the birth control pill use it for purposes other than pregnancy prevention, including managing endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and other medical conditions. It's basic preventive care and can save women up to $600 per year.

3.    Expanded Access for Women (especially Young Women)
More access means more healthy women. Under the law, access to affordable health insurance will become available for the nearly 13 million women of reproductive age who will be newly eligible for insurance coverage. Young supreme_court_card_youngadults-225.pngwomen (and men) under the age of 26 don't need to worry about immediately being dropped from their health care plan upon graduating college. In the majority of cases, they will be able to remain on their parents plans no matter if they are married, living with their parents, still in school or looking for a job. These women and men will be able to be covered up until the age of 26. Already 3.1 million young adults — including young women, who are more likely to be uninsured than any other age group — have already been able to stay on their parents' insurance up until the age of 26.

4.    Ending Discriminatory Practices Against Women
The ACA protects women from insurance supreme_court_card_preexist-225.pngcompanies charging higher premiums, sometimes up to 150 percent more than men.  Insurers will no longer be able to deny health care coverage because of a "pre-existing condition" such as breast cancer, high blood pressure, or diabetes.  This is especially good news for women who have been denied coverage because some health insurers have claimed that even pregnancy or being a survivor of domestic violence is a pre-existing condition.

5.    Promoting the Health of Women by Covering Preventive Care
By guaranteeing coverage of preventive care, such as lifesaving breast cancer screenings and immunizations without co-pays, the Affordable Care Act promotes the health of women. supreme_court_card_27k-2252.pngAdditionally, all new health plans will be required to offer essential benefits for women, including maternity care (an essential benefit that many plans do not cover), reproductive care, and prescription care. The law also guarantees access to their ob/gyn provider without another doctor's referral or approval from the insurance company.

6.    Your Insurance Company Can't Come Between You and Your Doctor
Every woman knows how important access to ob/gyn providers is to maintaining good health. But, too many women have faced barriers to accessing them. Under the law, your insurance company can't come between you and your doctor. Because of the ACA, women will have guaranteed access to an ob/gyn provider without having to wait for a doctor's referral or approval from the insurance company. Women will have a choice of doctors.

7.    Affordable Care for a Lifetime
Because of the health care law, millions of women will no longer have to worry about what happens if they get sick or have a preexisting condition. Millions of women of reproductive age will receive premium tax credits under the ACA. More than 4 million women of reproductive age will be eligible for tax-credits to make health insurance coverage through the Exchange affordable. Women will be able to receive the care they need without fear of discrimination or higher premiums simply because of their gender. The ACA represents the greatest single advance for women's access to health care in a generation. More access means healthier women and healthier families.

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