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Everyone’s been talking about the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka “Obamacare”) recently, and it can be hard to keep all the information straight. Sometimes we just want to tune out and spend hours looking at memes of adorable animals. But, if you can pull yourself away for just a few moments (I know, it’s hard), you’ll quickly find that the ACA is bringing exciting changes that directly affect you. There are many pieces of the new law that make health care more affordable and accessible, especially for young women.
So, for this month’s Ask Elizabeth column, we’re going to forgo our usual question format to highlight some of the most important changes.
Do you have a question that you’d like to see answered in this column? Send them to me at AskElizabeth@pp-la.org.
Preventive health care is a priority in the Affordable Care Act.
Birth control methods and other preventive care, like Pap tests, breast exams and STD screenings, will now be covered by insurance plans without a co-pay. Plans are required to cover all FDA-approved methods of birth control – including the pill, patch and ring. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to find out which brands they cover.
As a woman, you can no longer be charged more than men for insurance.
Before the ACA, people could be charged more for health insurance or denied coverage altogether because of a pre-existing condition – which could range from migraines to mental health disorders. Insurance companies could also charge you more simply because you’re a woman—a practice known as “gender rating.” In fact, women were sometimes charged twice as much for their monthly premiums! In addition to making prices equal between men and women, maternity coverage is also considered an essential health benefit and must be included in all individual plans.
You can stay on your parents’ insurance until age 26.
A lot of young adults struggle getting insurance, especially in those immediate post-college years, so this piece of the law is especially important. Young adults can now stay on parents’ insurance until they turn 26, even if they’re married, not living at home or no longer a student.
The ACA creates a marketplace to purchase affordable health insurance.
The insurance exchanges are essentially an online marketplace for U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to purchase health coverage. In the exchanges, you can shop for different health insurance options and see if you qualify for financial help to purchase private insurance. Plans and prices are available for insurance coverage that will start on January 1st, 2014 through healthcare.gov. Even if you’ve been denied covered in the past, make sure to visit the new exchange to see what you’re now eligible for.
Whether you have insurance or not, you can always come to Planned Parenthood for the care you need.
If you already have insurance or you’re getting insurance in the exchange, Planned Parenthood may be an in-network provider. Call your insurance company to ask, or use the plan finder tool to find a plan on the marketplace that includes Planned Parenthood. If you don’t have insurance, you can still come to Planned Parenthood for affordable, non-judgmental care. To find the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you, visit www.PlannedParenthood.org.