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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Women and health reform

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

It doesn’t even need to be said that women play an integral role in the health care of many others, including their children, their parents, and their families as a whole. And though women make up half of the U.S. population, for years they have not received treatment equal to men in the health care system. Health reform aims to eliminate this unfair treatment.

To better understand how women will benefit from the new law, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has come out with a series of fact sheets on how different aspects of the new health reform law will improve women’s health and well-being.

The fact sheets range from Health Reform Implementation Timeline to Making Health Care More Affordable to What Health Care Means for Women. There are also a few fact sheets that they are planning to put out in the future, such as Addressing Health Disparities among Women and Prohibiting Sex Discrimination in Health Care.

In addition to releasing a series of broad topic fact sheets, NWLC has also released state-by-state fact sheets, which show how women in each state will benefit from the new health reform law. Health reform ends harmful insurance company practices that are discriminatory against women, such as gender rating and denying coverage because of “pre-existing conditions” that are unique to women (such as pregnancy). It also highlights how health reform will make insurance more affordable and easier for women to obtain and will ensure that health plans cover services that are important to women’s health.

In Ohio alone “[u]p to 148,600 uninsured, low-income women in Ohio will be newly eligible for coverage through Medicaid…Approximately 346,000 women in Ohio will receive health insurance subsidies to help pay the premiums and out-of-pocket costs of Exchange-based health plans.” Those numbers not only represent thousands of women who will finally have access to affordable, quality care, but thousands of mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters who will have better access to health care, and as a result they will be better able to take care of their families.

The passing of health reform has brought about significant advances for women’s health, and it could not have come any sooner.