By Ashley Mayo, Strategic Engagement Fellow

It’s National Women’s Health Week, and we have a lot to celebrate. Last August, being a woman got easier as insurance companies started covering preventive services like birth control and mammograms without copays–and there’s more to come! 

As the Affordable Care Act rolls out, women will continue to benefit from a number of consumer protections and new coverage options.

For many years, women have gone without the care they need due to cost. According to a 2009 study by The Commonwealth Fund, nearly half of women delayed or did not receive a cancer screening because of its cost. Additionally,  1 in 3 women report having struggled to afford birth control at some point.  Thanks to Obamacare, insurance companies had to start covering certain preventive services—including annual checkups, cancer screenings, breastfeeding support and supplies, and contraception–on August 1st, 2012. If you’ve been charged for a preventive service that should be available without a copay, there are steps that you can take. Check out this guide from the National Women’s Law Center.

In addition to these preventive service coverages, women will benefit greatly from new consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act. In the past, women could be charged more for health insurance simply because of their gender, or because of  “preexisting conditions” like cancer or having been pregnant. Next year, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage or charge more based on a person’s gender or health history.

Finally, women will have access to new, affordable coverage options. Women are more likely than men to live in poverty, which often makes quality health insurance unaffordable. Those who have incomes below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (about $15,000 per year for an individual or $30,000 per year for a family of four) will qualify for coverage through Medicaid. Women who make up to 400% of FPL (about $94,000 per year for a family of four) will be eligible for premium subsidies that will help them buy private insurance in Colorado’s new marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.

The Affordable Care Act not only improves quality of health insurance for those who already have it, but will extend coverage to millions of women across the country. Getting the care you need when you need it is never too much to ask, regardless of your gender or health status. Thanks to Obamacare, Colorado is moving toward this commonsense goal.

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