#BeBoldForChange: Celebrating women’s equal access to health insurance coverage

#beboldforchangeAllison G. of Abingdon remembers shopping for health coverage nearly nine years ago and watching the price shoot up when she checked the box for female.

After having a C-section birth and struggling with postpartum depression, she was denied for most private plans. “The few policies offered to me not only provided very little coverage, but had large gender rate increases that also made them prohibitively expensive,” she recalled.

Today, on International Women's Day, we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, who can #BeBoldForChange in part because of equal access to health coverage.

Today, women can no longer be denied health coverage or be charged more because they are a woman, or denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions like pregnancy, and many screenings important to women’s health are covered for free.

For many women, this access to care has been life-saving. In fact, cancer researchers have found a decline in rates of early-stage cervical cancer as young women are being diagnosed and treated earlier.

The researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, attribute this progress to the provision that allows young people to remain on their parents’ health plan until age 26, decreasing the uninsured rate among young adults. Regular screenings for cervical cancer also are covered by plans at no cost for women age 21 and older.

According to the study, before 2010, 71 percent of cervical cancers among 21- to 25-year-olds were found early, compared with 79 percent after 2010, when dependent coverage expansion went into effect.

"Cervical cancer is a young woman's disease," said Kevin Ault, a professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center. "Finding this cancer earlier will give women more choices of treatment."

Health plans currently must cover key benefits that are important to women, including:

  • Doctor visits
  • Hospitalization
  • Emergency care
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Pediatric care, including dental and vision benefits
  • Prescription drugs
  • Laboratory tests
  • Mental health care
  • Substance abuse treatment

And in addition to cervical cancer screenings for women age 21 and older, plans must cover these preventive services for women below for free (even if they haven’t met their yearly deductible), when delivered by a doctor or provider in your plan’s network.

Additional preventive services are covered for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.

About Maryland Health Connection

Maryland Health Connection is Maryland’s official health insurance marketplace for individuals and families to compare plans and enroll in health and dental coverage. It’s the only place to get financial help with health insurance. See if you qualify for financial help like tax credits or Medicaid/MCHP to make health insurance more affordable.

Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov to enroll, or download our free Enroll MHC mobile app for Android and iPhone.

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