Chicago Tribune: Obamacare and Its Effect on Women’s Health

Chicago Tribune: Obamacare and Its Effect on Women’s Health

Numerous Affordable Care Act provisions specifically benefit women, including guarantee of maternity coverage

By Judy Peres

Meg Finnegan thought she might never be able to afford to have a baby.

Finnegan, who is self-employed and has a pre-existing medical condition, was having trouble finding health insurance at all, let alone a policy that would cover pregnancy and childbirth. So she was thrilled to discover that the plan she signed up for last fall under the Affordable Care Act includes maternity coverage.

“When you don’t have insurance, you’re afraid of any life event that brings you to the hospital, for a good or a bad reason,” said Finnegan, 37, an Evanston resident. “If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t have a baby. All those doctor’s appointments and tests, and possibly a high-risk delivery — how would you pay for it?”

Finnegan is not sure whether her fertility treatment will be fully covered. Because she’s in a same-sex relationship, she plans to use artificial insemination.

“Insemination would be covered for a heterosexual couple if they failed to conceive after a year,” she said. “But the language (of the policy) doesn’t mention same-sex couples. I might have to pay for the first attempt. If that didn’t work I’d be technically infertile, and the next attempts would probably be covered.”

That’s one of many things that remain unclear about how the Affordable Care Act will be implemented. It’s still in the early days, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sometimes has to issue clarifying regulations.

For example, insurance plans are required to provide “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods” without deductibles or copays. Yet some insurers have said they would cover placement of an IUD but not taking it out or being treated for complications, according to Susan Berke Fogel of the National Health Law Program. Read the full article here. »


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