The historic House health insurance reform bill was released yesterday, moving us ever closer to passing legislation guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for all Americans. The Affordable Health Care for America Act, which you can download and peruse at your leisure, lays out a lot of changes benefiting Americans across the board. But, one group that stands to gain the most from this reform is American women.
As we reported yesterday, Section 107 of the House Bill prohibits the classification of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. And that's just the beginning:
Gender-rating made illegal: Insurance plans will no longer be able to charge women as much as 48% more than men for the same insurance coverage.
SEC. 213. INSURANCE RATING RULES.
(a) IN GENERAL.--The premium rate charged for a qualified health benefits plan that is health insurance coverage may not vary except as follows:
(1) LIMITED AGE VARIATION PERMITTED.--By age (within such age categories as the Commissioner shall specify) so long as the ratio of the highest such premium to the lowest such premium does not exceed the ratio of 2 to 1.
(2) BY AREA.--By premium rating area (as permitted by State insurance regulators or, in the case of Exchange-participating health benefits plans, as specified by the Commissioner in consultation with such regulators).
(3) BY FAMILY ENROLLMENT.--By family enrollment (such as variations within categories and compositions of families) so long as the ratio of the premium for family enrollment (or enrollments) to the premium for individual enrollment is uniform, as specified under State law and consistent with rules of the Commissioner.
Insurers must provide maternity coverage: Insurers will no longer be able to avoid providing maternity care to women.
SEC. 222. ESSENTIAL BENEFITS PACKAGE DEFINED.
(a) IN GENERAL.--In this division, the term ''essential benefits package'' means health benefits coverage, consistent with standards adopted under section 224, to ensure the provision of quality health care and financial security, that--
(b) MINIMUM SERVICES TO BE COVERED.--Subject to subsection (d), the items and services described in this subsection are the following:
(9) Maternity care.
New offices of women's health established: Both the department of Health & Human Services and the Center for Disease Control will now have an office dedicated to studying women's health issues.
SEC. 229. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES OFFICE ON WOMEN'S HEALTH.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT OF OFFICE.--There is established within the Office of the Secretary, an Office on Women's Health
SEC. 310A. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION OFFICE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT.--There is established within the Office of the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an office to be known as the Office of Women's Health
For more on the positive changes women will see under the House bill, be sure to check out this factsheet put out by the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The positive measures in the House bill shows that when women all over the country speak out about gender equity in health care, or members of Congress listen. Moving forward, however, we must keep the pressure on to make sure that the legislation we saw put forth yesterday is signed into law.