Reform Realities: For Women

In October, the Wellness Center of Door County hosted “Health Care 101: What Health Care Reform Means for Women and Their Children.” The presentation, featuring Sara Finger of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women and Rachel Currans-Sheehan of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, focused on the aspects of health care reform that improve access and equality for women in the health care marketplace.

The presentation highlighted several hurdles that women must face in the health care system that men don’t have to deal with, as well as provisions of the reform bill that are of particular importance to women.

“This is a huge win for Wisconsin women,” Finger said. “We need to start talking about it.”

Here are some of the provisions that Finger said will have the biggest impact on women’s health care and costs.

Provisions that took effect in September:

• All new insurance plans and renewals of existing plans are required to cover essential health benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs, and mental health services.

• Children are now allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26

• Sick children can no longer be turned down for coverage because of their condition.

• New insurance plans are required to cover preventative health care such as pap smears and mammograms without charging co-payments.

• Partial elimination of the gender rating. The gender rating means women of the same age and health status as men are charged more for insurance coverage. It will be eliminated for individuals and small employers, but not for employers with more than 100 employees.

Provisions taking effect in 2014:

• Pregnancy and newborn care, along with vision and dental coverage for children, will be covered in all plans offered in the Health Insurance Exchanges states must create.