July 30, 2010 -- The new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, bodes well for as many as 30 million women -- a number that includes 15 million women who are uninsured, according to a new report issued by the Commonwealth Fund, a private health research firm in New York City.
This new report is the first in a series that will look at how health care reform will affect specific populations.
"While women as a group are just as likely as men to be uninsured, they are more likely to have medical debt, bill problems, and have trouble getting insurance," Karen Davis, the Commonwealth Fund president, said during a telephone conference. "This report brings good news to all women who will now be more likely to get the care they need with a reduced risk of incurring the unaffordable medical bills that have affected so many Americans."
Seventeen million working-age women were uninsured in 2008, and 14.5 million women had such high out-of-pocket costs that they were effectively underinsured, report author Sarah Collins, PhD, a vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund, said during the teleconference. "Given the high unemployment rate, this number has likely increased," she says.
"Women have more contact with health care because of their reproductive needs and the central role they play in coordinating the health care of their families," she says. The Affordable Care Act "will have a huge impact on women who are uninsured and large effects on women who are currently underinsured."
Health Reform Law Takes Full Effect in 2014
The new law takes full effect in 2014, but certain early provisions will be in place in the next three years, Collins says.
Such transitional benefits include provisions that allow young adults (up to age 26) to remain on or join their parents' insurance plan, she says. "One million uninsured adult children will gain coverage as a result," she says.
There will also be bans on the cancellation of an insurance policy when a person is sick. "This will affect a number of women who could have had their health insurance rescinded," Collins tells WebMD.