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This blog is part of the HERvotes blog carnival.

It seems all anyone can talk about is the new healthcare law (aka “Affordable Care Act”) that passed back in March of 2010. Whether members of Congress and people running for President are promising to repeal the law, or implementation is moving forward, it feels like everywhere I turn, there is discussion about the bill. However, I live in a policy bubble in Washington, DC (I’m a policy nerd-I admit it), and from what I hear talking to “real” people, there is still a lot of confusion. So here, in a short blog post, are a few (not all) things I think are important for young people, and young women in particular, to know about.

1. Young people can stay on their parent’s health insurance until their 26th birthday.
When the healthcare bill passed, young people were the largest group of the uninsured. In these economic times, not only has it been difficult for people (especially young people) to find jobs, but jobs that include health insurance. Being able to stay on your parent’s health insurance just makes sense. New data has shown that nearly one million young people have gained health insurance thanks to this provision.
This is in effect now.

2. Minors can’t be denied insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Because of the new healthcare bill, minors cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. This is great news for young people who have everything from asthma to HIV.
This is in effect now.

3. No co-pays for birth control.
In the year 2011, you’d think access to birth control wouldn’t be a big deal…but it is. Not all health plans cover contraception and even if they do, sometimes co-pays are too high to make contraception accessible. Well, this is about to change. Starting next August, plans will be required to not only cover contraception (certain religious employers are exempted from this), but cover contraception with no co-pay.
Let’s face it. Birth control can be expensive. If women, including young women, want to make the responsible decision to use contraception to prevent and unintended pregnancy, they should be able to access the services they need to do so.

These are just a few gains brought to us by the new healthcare law that have been implemented or will go into effect soon, but there is more to come…

1. No one will be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Whether it’s diabetes, cancer, pregnancy or domestic violence (I’m not even lying. Women have been denied coverage because they are survivors of domestic violence or are pregnant), starting in 2014, no one will be denied access to insurance coverage because of any pre-existing condition.

2. Medicaid expanded!
In order to make sure more people have access to healthcare, in 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to include all Americans who make less than 133% of the poverty level (about $14,000 for individuals and $29,000 for a family of four). This is a HUGE deal for young people and young families who previously have had a hard time accessing healthcare. I know this is especially important for women (like some of my friends) who have become pregnant, had access to Medicaid during their pregnancy, and then were kicked off weeks after delivering their baby.

3. Women can’t be charged more…for being women.
Believe it or not, there are still cases where men and women pay different prices for the same health insurance…and women are paying MORE (Equality, what?). Becuase of the new healthcare law, insurance companies cannot charge higher rates based on gender. While this also doesn’t come into effect until 2014, it’s a huge gain that honestly, should have happened years ago.

Like I mentioned before, there is a lot to the new healthcare law, but these are just a few of the good things we’ve gained because of it. For those who oppose the entire law, it’s probably a good idea to ask them where they stand on these issues, and if they really want them all to go away.

As more of the law is implemented, we’ll be sure to keep you updated!

To learn more about the new healthcare law and additional benefits for women, check out the HERvotes blog carnival.

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