Health Reform: Implications for Women's Access to Coverage and Care
Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is well under way. Since its passage in 2010, a number of provisions have already taken effect and federal and several state governments are moving forward to implement the rest of the law’s major provisions. The ACA holds the potential to expand women’s access to health insurance coverage and includes other reforms designed to strengthen the existing health care system’s ability to serve millions of women. Health care has long been a fundamental policy priority for women, reflecting their experiences with the health care system as patients, mothers, and caregivers for frail and disabled family members. This brief discusses the impact of the health reform law for women on their access to coverage, health care affordability, scope of benefits, reproductive health, and long-term care – all priority issues for women. Many of the important details that will shape how well the law improves coverage rates for women and ultimately, access to care, will depend on the regulations that continue to be promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the choices that state policy makers will make regarding their Medicaid programs and new insurance exchanges, and in the end, the types of plans that are selected by women and their families.