The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) and National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) hosted a teleconference and web conference on April 7, 2010 and April 8, 2010 focusing on the effects of the new health care reform on women. Both organizations did a really great job outlining both the positive and not-so-positive provisions in the bill in regards to it’s effects on women.
Some of the positives include:

  • Exchanges. People may be eligible for federal subsidies to help them purchase insurance in a “virtual marketplace,” called Exchanges. The idea is that as the number of people purchasing insurance from this “virtual marketplace” grows, the price for policies will decrease and become much more affordable for everyone.
  • “Guaranteed Issue” which explicitly states that health care companies cannot deny coverage to women with pre-existing conditions. A survivor suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to issues of domestic violence and sexual assault cannot be denied coverage because of their “pre-existing” condition, as health care companies have been doing already.
  • Health insurance premiums cannot vary based on gender or health status. Women can no longer be charged more than men based on the fact that they are women. Premiums can, however, be based upon age, smoking status, and geography.
  • Community Health Centers will receive $11 billion in new funding. For women who visit community health centers often, this will expand the services they may receive from the centers.
  • No co-pays for preventative services. Insurers will not be able to charge co-pays to women seeking preventative services such as pap smears and mammograms.
  • Funding for Community Health Workers. Funds will be available to expand and continue the work of Community Health Workers (Promotoras) for medically underserved communities, as well as model those services in areas where they do not currently exist.

Some not-so-positive provisions include:

  • Ban on abortion continues. States will still have the right to ban insurance policies that cover abortion services from participating in the Exchanges (Nelson Provision). It also upholds the Hyde Amendment, which states that federal funding that the Community Health Centers will receive cannot be used to provide abortion as an option for women.
  • No coverage for undocumented persons, including survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Undocumented persons will not be eligible for federal subsidies to purchase policies.  Even if they are able to purchase insurance, they will not be able to access the Exchange options.
  • The five-year ban for legal permanent residents continues.  Even if a survivor is a legal permanent resident, they will still be unable to access the programs until five years after obtaining their legal status.

Although the Health Care Reform bill has been signed, there are still many loose ends to the bill.  The implementation of many of these provisions still need to take place and will do so between 2010 and 2014.  You can access the resources below for more information about the Health Care Reform and how it affects you.  You can also visit the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and National Women’s Law Center website for more information about their efforts to ensure that every woman has access to affordable and fair health care insurance.
NLIRH: What you can expect from Health Care Reform
NLIRH: Que puede esperar del la Reforma del Sistema de Salud
NLIRH: Timeline for Health Care Reform Implemenation
NLIRH: Cuando sera implementada la reforma de salud?
NWLC: Women and Health Care reform At-A-Glance
NWLC: What does Health Care Reform means for Women