Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How is health reform working for you? Raising Women's Voices gathering stories

Next week will mark the first anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the new national health reform law. Raising Women's Voices and our allies worked hard to win passage of this law, which will eventually provide health insurance coverage to 15 million uninsured women in our country, and improve the coverage that another 15 million women already have. 
One year later, we want to know how health reform is working out for you and your family. While major provisions of the law won't go into effect until 2014, a number of important changes have already taken place. Have you or someone in your family benefitted from these changes? If so, please tell us about it by taking just a few moments to contribute your story. If you have experienced problems trying to take advantage of new health reform provisions, we want to know about those, too!
  1. Keeping young adults on family health insurance plans: Young adults up to age 26 are now able stay on, or return to, family health insurance policies. This is really important, since young adults have the highest un-insurance rate of any population group and young women have a special need for reproductive health coverage. Have you or a young person in your family been able to take advantage of this provision? Or, have you been told it doesn't apply to your insurance policy? Tell us your story!

  2.  Getting preventive health services, such as mammograms and Pap smears, without co-pays and deductibles. Those out-of-pocket charges can discourage us from seeking the preventive care we need. Are you finding that these services are now more affordable for you and your family? Or, have you been told you still have to come up with a co-pay? Tell us your story!

  3.  Getting rebate checks for prescription drug costs after falling into the Medicare "donut hole." Last summer, Medicare enrollees began receiving $250 rebate checks to reimburse them for some of their out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs, once they have fallen into the Medicare "donut hole" in which no drug costs are covered. This year, Medicare enrollees are also eligible to purchase brand-name drugs at a 50 percent discount. Have you received one of these checks? Have your prescription drug costs been reduced by these provisions? Tell us your story!

  4.  Keeping your health insurance coverage, even when you get sick. Insurance companies can no longer cancel your policy if you get sick. Up until last year, insurance companies in many states had been rescinding people's coverage if they became ill. This heinous practice was outlawed by the Affordable Care Act. Have you benefitted from this new policy? Were you able to keep your coverage after getting sick? Tell us your story!

  5. Obtaining health insurance coverage for your children, even if they have pre-existing conditions or become ill. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children if they have pre-existing conditions. Has this provision helped your family? Tell us your story!

  6.  Obtaining health coverage through new state high-risk pools (known as Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans or PCIPs). Last summer, states began offering this coverage, which is intended as a temporary stop-gap solution until the new state insurance exchanges open in 2014. Of course, we were dismayed that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services banned abortion coverage in these federally-subsidized insurance policies, but we recognize that for some women with serious illnesses, the PCIPs are the only place to obtain affordable insurance coverage for now. Have you or someone you know obtained coverage through a state PCIP? Tell us your story!

  7.  Helping small employers afford to offer employee health insurance by providing tax credits.  Small businesses and non-profits (with 25 or fewer employees) can qualify for tax credits to help offset the cost of providing health insurance to their employees? Has your employer or your own small business or non-profit taken advantage of this provision? Tell us your story!

  8.  Barring insurance companies from cutting off your coverage when the cost of treatment for a serious illness or catastrophic injury reaches an arbitrary "lifetime limit." Insurance companies are no longer able to impose lifetime limits or "unreasonable" annual limits on the amount they will pay for your treatment. Have you or someone you know been helped by this? Tell us your story!

  9.  Enabling early retirees (ages 55 to 65) to maintain employer-sponsored health insurance.  Typically, early retirees have trouble maintaining health insurance until they reach the age for Medicare eligibility (65). Under the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program of the ACA, the federal government already has provided $535 million to help local governments, companies, religious groups and schools provide young retirees and their families with affordable health insurance. The funds are used to help these employers pay their share of the cost of continuing health coverage for their early retirees. Have you or someone you know been able to maintain health coverage as an early retiree because of this program? Tell us your story!
Help us document how the Affordable Care Act is working for women and our families. Please pass this email along to anyone you know who might have a story to share with us! 

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