Shirk-145728-180x180by Norma Shirk

The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) has changed how Americans receive health care and many of the changes directly benefit women.

For example, the “preventive care” category was designed to help women and their children. Preventive care is 100% covered by insurance, so the patient does not owe a deductible, co-pay, or co-insurance. Preventive care for women means they can get annual physical exams with mams and paps at no charge to them.  In addition, birth control services for women are 100% covered by insurance.

Preventive care for children includes “well baby” coverage for infants up to one year old. This allows babies to get regular checkups and vaccinations during their first year at no charge.  Older children can also get their immunization shots, usually at no charge. (There may be a charge for vaccines for older children depending on the purpose for the doctor’s Physician examining female patientvisit.)

Women (and men) benefit from other parts of the ACA, such as prohibiting annual and lifetime limits on coverage. This means that a woman with, for example, breast cancer, will never be told that her treatment has reached a maximum level of benefits for the year or her lifetime. Women (and men) who buy individual health policies will benefitfrom an end to the pre-existing condition exclusion. In the past, this exclusion meant that people had to pay for their treatment for 6 or 12 months until the exclusion ended.  Now, pregnant women or people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, will have insurance coverage for those conditions from day one.

Women (and men) from lower income families who don’t qualify for Medicaid based on income, can now get help paying for their health insurance. The help is in the form of subsidies to help pay premiums on individual policies and to help pay deductibles and co-pays.

To apply for the subsidies, a woman (or man) must apply for an individual policy through the Healthcare Exchange or Marketplace.  During this application process, the woman (or man) can also apply for the subsidies. The Marketplace open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014 and ends on January 15, 2015 (for coverage during 2015).

These are just a few of the changes in the ACA that help women receive and pay for health insurance. For more information, go to


Norma Shirk is a licensed attorney who currently serves as a business compliance consultant. She writes a periodic column on the Affordable Care Act for the Clarksville Area Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management. She does educational presentations on the ACA and other human resources issues.