Thirty million women will benefit from the new healthcare reform law over the next decade, through new or strengthened insurance coverage, a new issue brief from the Commonwealth Fund finds.
The first in a series of reports examining how healthcare reform is expected to affect various populations, the brief, Realizing Health Reform's Potential: Women and the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (18 pages, PDF), found that the law will stabilize and reverse the growing exposure to health costs that women now experience, thanks to insurance industry standards that assess them as higher risk than men, and policies that do not cover pregnancy.
The report states that the new law will subsidize health insurance for up to 15 million women who are currently uninsured and strengthen existing coverage for 14.5 million women who are underinsured, meaning that they have health coverage that does not adequately protect them from high medical expenses. Provisions important to women will provide subsidies to purchase insurance, limit out-of-pocket spending, prevent insurers from charging higher premiums or denying coverage based on health status or gender, and require new plans to cover maternity and newborn care.
The provisions also will help uninsured women who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid or premium subsidies gain comprehensive coverage, and will help an estimated one hundred thousand uninsured women with pre-existing conditions gain at least temporary coverage. Women living in states with higher than average rates of uninsured individuals, including New Mexico, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, stand to gain the most from the new law.
"Historically, women have been more vulnerable to high healthcare costs and have had greater difficulty paying medical bills because of their lower incomes," said Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis. "This report provides good news to all women, who will be more likely to get the care they need, with reduced risk of incurring the unaffordable medical bills that have affected so many Americans."