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New Campaign Spotlights Affordable Care Act Benefits for Women


WASHINGTON, March 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new national campaign, Countdown to Coverage, began today to tell American women about the benefits and protections they and their families are gaining from national health reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

The campaign addresses a widespread lack of public understanding about the current and coming benefits of the law, which marked its second anniversary. Countdown to Coverage was developed by Raising Women's Voices for the Health We Need, a national initiative working to ensure that health reform meets the needs of women and families.

Cindy Pearson, co-founder of Raising Women's Voices and executive director of the National Women's Health Network, noted that the ACA "takes bigger strides toward health care for all than any health policy enacted in my lifetime." Key provisions already in effect end co-pays for cancer screenings, allow parents to keep children up to age 26 on family health insurance policies, eliminate lifetime dollar limits on the amount of medical care insurance companies will cover, prohibit insurers from canceling policies when a person gets sick and prohibit insurers from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions.

"When women learn about the actual benefits and protections we are already getting from the Affordable Care Act, they are really enthusiastic and want to know what happens next," said Lois Uttley, co-founder of Raising Women's Voices and President of the Public Health Association of NYC.

Starting August 1, 2012, new insurance plans will have to cover women's preventive care without charging co-pays and deductibles. Covered services include an annual well-woman visit, contraception and contraceptive counseling, breastfeeding supports (such as lactation counseling and rental of breast pumps), HIV screening and counseling, gestational diabetes screening and screening for domestic violence.

When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, with various deadline dates over the next few years, women and families will gain even more benefits and protections. Insurance companies will be barred from charging women more than men for the same health policy and from refusing to cover adults with pre-existing conditions. The law will guarantee insurance coverage for prenatal and maternity care. Sudden and drastic increases in premiums will also be prohibited.

Also that year, state insurance "exchanges" will open to offer quality, affordable health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans and to small businesses that want to provide health coverage for their employees. The cost of private insurance coverage offered in these exchanges will be partially offset through the availability of federal subsidies, in the form of tax credits.

"The state insurance exchanges will provide affordable health coverage for people who are uninsured, and also provide a valuable back-up plan for people who suddenly lose their employer-sponsored insurance, such as through a layoff," Uttley explained. "Women are gaining tremendous peace of mind knowing that there will be a place to get affordable coverage if they lose theirs."

In highlighting these advances, the Countdown to Coverage campaign "takes health reform out of the political frame and helps women understand the value that the law has for each of us as consumers of health care," Pearson said.

The campaign's website describes the law's provisions and has fact sheets about how the law is helping women and our families. Raising Women's Voices coordinators are giving Countdown to Coverage presentations in locations across the country beginning this week. "We all have something to gain from the Affordable Care Act," Pearson said.

SOURCE  Countdown to Coverage

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Information in this article was accurate in March 22, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.