As of 2014, “gender rating”—where insurers can charge women higher premiums than men—becomes illegal in all new individual and small group plans.
Currently only 12 percent of plans sold in the individual market offer maternity coverage. Once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, about 8.7 million women will have guaranteed access to maternity and newborn care in all new individual and small group plans.
It’s common in today’s market for insurers to refuse to cover women because of gender-based “preexisting conditions.” These conditions can include issues such as having had breast cancer or a Caesarean section or having been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. This practice, too, will be outlawed under Obamacare in 2014.
Under Obamacare, insurers are now required to cover critical preventive services such as mammograms, Pap smears, and well-baby care without cost sharing.
In addition, starting this August, more services specifically for women will be added to the list of preventive care that must be covered at no additional cost. That list includes contraception, gestational diabetes screening, breastfeeding counseling and equipment, annual well-woman care (in other words, a visit to the OB-GYN), and screening and counseling for domestic violence and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and the human papillomavirus.
Other benefits for women include the ability to see their OB-GYN without a referral, guaranteed breaks and a private space for nursing moms to pump breast milk while at work, and home visiting programs for at-risk new mothers.