President Obama is scheduled to visit Boston Wednesday to talk about the Affordable Care Act and use Massachusetts’ experience – which passed its health reform law in 2006 -- as encouragement for Americans to sign up for health care. Given the fact that Healthcare.gov, the website Americans will need to sign up for health care has been a navigation nightmare for many, he may need the positive energy the Bay State has built up from the anticipated Red Sox win tonight to get a few good cheers.
The slow start and partisan bickering about the health care law that shut down the government seems to have only added more confusion about the health care law. If you’re a woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant or in need of reproductive health services such as fertility procedures, what the ACA offers – and doesn’t – should matter to you.
Here are 5 important aspects of the Affordable Care Act women need to know when it comes to their reproductive health:
• Medical Care. Under the law, all health insurance plans – including private insurances – cover your regular OB appointments and some prenatal screening tests such as one for gestational diabetes screening without co-payments or other cost sharing methods. Remember that maternity as well as newborn care are considered, “essential health benefits,” under the health care law so any plan you choose with cover these costs. Here is a full list of women’s preventive services covered by law.
• Family planning. Under the law, all health plans – including Medicaid in many states -- also cover the cost of contraception such as birth control pills without any cost to you.
• Infertility treatments. Unfortunately there’s no dramatic change under the law that will impact the way infertility treatments are delivered. Perhaps more women will have access to infertility services through mandated health care and they won’t be denied health insurance based on their preexisting condition – yes, in some cases, infertility diagnosis has been considered a preexisting condition and a basis for denied insurance. However, the ACA doesn’t really have a section on infertility-related disorders and treatment. Only 15 states – including Massachusetts – mandate that private insurers cover certain infertility treatment, but each state varies on what exactly is covered. In other states, diagnosis and treatment of infertility is not reimbursed by insurance providers.
• Breastfeeding. If you’ve made the decision to breastfeed, the law requires that new health plans cover any type of breastfeeding support including supplies and counseling at no cost to you.
• Costs. While no copayment on certain services seems like an “affordable” deal under the law, by no means does the ACA mean free health care. Depending on your insurance plan, your monthly premium may go up. That’s why it’s still important to shop around for the health care plan that's right for you depending on your plan for starting or growing your family.
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