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Why the Affordable Care Act Is Important for HIV-Positive Women

July 2013

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. Many of the health care and health insurance changes the ACA calls for are particularly important for women living with HIV (HIV+). Some of the changes have already gone into effect, while others are scheduled to begin later in 2013 and in 2014.


Why Is the ACA Important for HIV+ Women?

In the past, people living with HIV have had a difficult time getting access to the care and treatment they needed. Fewer than one in five HIV+ people in the US have private health insurance coverage, and more than a quarter have no insurance at all. Medicaid is the government program that provides health coverage to low-income people, yet many HIV+ people with low incomes have not qualified.

Before the ACA, people needed to be both low-income AND fit into one of several qualifying groups (e.g., pregnant women, children, parents with dependent children, and people with disabilities). Because of these requirements, many HIV+ low-income women without children unfortunately have had to get a diagnosis of AIDS in order to be considered disabled and qualify for Medicaid. For more information about Medicaid, please click here.

Women often feel the burden of health care costs more than men. Generally, women earn less than men. In addition, most HIV+ women have children or others living in their household who need care. It doesn't help matters that insurance companies have often charged women more than men for the same health insurance and were able to list pregnancy as a pre-existing condition (also a cause for charging more or refusing coverage altogether). In combination, these factors have made it especially difficult for HIV+ women to get the care and treatment they need to stay healthy.

The ACA provides for several changes that can dramatically improve the health of women living with HIV. These include:

Increasing Access to Care

The ACA will:

Preventive Care

Preventive care refers to tests and screenings that help us find problems early and prevent more serious diseases from happening down the road. Many of the tests and types of care that fall under 'preventive' care are types of care that only affect women -- things like birth control, pap smears, and services for pregnant women.

The ACA will make all new insurance plans (those beginning on or after August 1, 2012) cover the following services with no cost-sharing (no co-pay and no deductible):

You can learn more about how the ACA will affect women living with HIV by looking at our list of additional resources. In addition, you can go to www.healthcare.gov to find insurance options, prepare for the insurance marketplace (opening October 2013), learn about prevention and wellness benefits, and find out what is changing and when.

The Well Project would like to thank Jen Kates of the Kaiser Family Foundation for her assistance with this article.




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