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Two-Year Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act: What's In It for Young People?
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Editor's Note: This blog is part of the HERvotes blog carnival.

This week is the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and next week the Supreme Court will hear arguments from some states who are essentially trying to overturn the law for a variety of reasons.

While the Affordable Care Act is nowhere near perfect and in fact does some crappy things (sets us back on abortion and funds abstinence-only sex education programs to states for five years), there are quite a few positive advances for young people which we have listed below.

1. Young people can stay on their parent’s health insurance until their 26th birthday.
When the healthcare bill passed, young people were the largest group of the uninsured. In these economic times, not only has it been difficult for people (especially young people) to find jobs, but jobs that include health insurance. Being able to stay on your parent’s health insurance just makes sense. New data has shown that nearly one million young people have gained health insurance thanks to this provision.

2. Minors can’t be denied insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Because of the new healthcare bill, minors cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. This is great news for young people who have everything from asthma to HIV.

3. No co-pays for birth control.
In the year 2012, you’d think access to birth control wouldn’t be a big deal…but it is. Not all health plans cover contraception and even if they do, sometimes co-pays are too high to make contraception accessible. In fact, one study showed that more than half of young women experienced a time when they could not afford to use their birth control consistently.

Well, this is about to get better. Starting in August, plans will be required to not only cover contraception, but cover it with no co-pay. One exemption exists for houses of worship who oppose contraception. For religious-based organizations who oppose birth control, they are able to apply for a one-year waiver from the rule, meaning they would not have to comply until August 2013 and then the health insurance company covers the actual cost of the contraception. For groups that are self-insured, those rules are still being discussed.

And as we heard on Friday, this rule also applies to student health plans (yay!), some of which currently do not cover birth control. Student activists from across the country like Sandra Fluke and you have been fighting for a LONG time for this victory. Like with the employer plans, religious-affiliated universities may apply for a one-year waiver, but by August 2013, student health plans will also have to cover contraception making access one step closer to reality for young women trying to focus on their education. Check out other protections to student health plans that were also just announced by clicking here.

Let’s face it. Birth control can be expensive. If women, including young women, want to make the responsible decision to use contraception to prevent and unintended pregnancy, they should be able to access the services they need to do so.

These are just a few gains brought to us by the new healthcare law that have been implemented or will go into effect soon, but there is more to come...

1. No one will be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Whether it’s diabetes, cancer, pregnancy or domestic violence (I’m not even lying. Women have been denied coverage because they are survivors of domestic violence or are pregnant), starting in 2014, no one will be denied access to insurance coverage because of any pre-existing condition.

2. Medicaid expanded!
In order to make sure more people have access to healthcare, in 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to include all Americans who make less than 133% of the poverty level (about $14,000 for individuals and $29,000 for a family of four). This is a HUGE deal for young people and young families who previously have had a hard time accessing healthcare. I know this is especially important for women (like some of my friends) who have become pregnant, had access to Medicaid during their pregnancy, and then were kicked off weeks after delivering their baby.

3. Women can't be charged more...for being women.
Believe it or not, there are still cases where men and women pay different prices for the same health insurance...and women are paying MORE (Equality, what?). Because of the new healthcare law, insurance companies cannot charge higher rates based on gender. While this also doesn’t come into effect until 2014, it’s a huge gain that honestly, should have happened years ago.

Like I mentioned before, there is a lot to the new healthcare law, but these are just a few of the good things we’ve gained because of it. And while it clearly isn’t perfect, it’s certainly not something to overturn and take away all these advances that benefit young people.

For those who oppose the entire law, it’s probably a good idea to ask them where they stand on these issues, and if they really want them all to go away.

As more of the law is implemented, we’ll be sure to keep you updated!

To learn more about the new healthcare law and additional benefits for women, check out the HERvotes blog carnival.
 
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