This blog post was co-written by Ebonee Rice, Young American and Women’s Engagement Director, Enroll America and Lois Uttley, Director, Raising Women’s Voices-NY.
As we mark Women’s History Month and the sixth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March, women have a lot to celebrate! In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a look at why the Affordable Care Act has made a difference for women, how women can get covered, and the ways Raising Women’s Voices is helping women use their new health coverage.
Why the ACA Matters for Women
The ACA has given millions of women access to affordable health care by making quality health insurance more available to women across the country. With the passage of ACA, women who were previously uninsured may be able to purchase affordable private coverage through health insurance marketplaces, or sign up for free or low-cost Medicaid coverage.
Through the marketplaces (and many other health plans), women now have access to free preventive services, including cervical cancer screening, mammography breast cancer screening, domestic violence screening and counseling, and much more. Around 9.5 million women between the ages of 18 and 64 gained coverage from 2013 through early 2016, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
How Women Can Get Covered Now
We are working to let uninsured women know that they may still be able to apply for coverage if they qualify for Medicaid (which has year-round enrollment) or a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for marketplace coverage.
Women who become pregnant can qualify for an SEP in New York, but not in the federally facilitated marketplace. Pregnant women can enroll in private health insurance coverage during annual open enrollment periods (the next one starts November 1). But lower-income women may qualify for pregnancy-related Medicaid in many states. For more information on qualifying for SEPs, check out GetCoveredAmerica.org.
Here are a couple of social media messages we’ve posted for Women’s History Month — please free to share and adapt these posts!
— Get Covered America (@GetCoveredUS) March 21, 2016
— Get Covered America (@GetCoveredUS) March 19, 2016
Ways to Help Women Use Their Coverage
But getting an insurance card is not enough. Women also need to learn how to use their new coverage effectively to get the care they need and avoid unexpected costs. That’s the mission of the new health insurance literacy campaign for women — My Health, My Voice — started by Raising Women’s Voices, an Enroll America partner.
The campaign is using a website, printed materials, and workshops to help women learn how to use their insurance cards, choose a primary care provider who is “in network” in their health plan, make an appointment for an annual well-woman visit (at no extra charge) and obtain an array of preventive services without paying co-pays. The materials also explain when to expect to pay a co-pay, deductible, or co-insurance, and how to find out how much the charge will be.
You can go to the My Health, My Voice website to join the campaign, download free materials or order multiple printed copies of “A Woman’s Step-by-Step Guide to Using Health Insurance,” or “My Personal Health Journal.” The Journal is a new publication that helps women prepare for their first well-woman visit, record their family medical histories, keep contact information for their health providers and set goals for improving their personal health. Coming this Spring will be a Spanish-language version of the Step-by-Step Guide!
So, this Women’s History Month — and every month of the year — all of us at Enroll America and Raising Women’s Voices are proud to work to ensure that women get educated, get covered and stay covered.