March 24 2011

Health-Care Reform and Women

Hadley Heath

Each day this week, supporters of President Obama's health-care overhaul are praising it for a different reason. Today's reason: the wonderful things it does for women. Planned Parenthood Action calls it "the greatest single legislative advancement for women's health since Medicare and Medicaid."

At the Center for American Progress, Eesha Pandit lists the "Top Five Ways Health Reform is Helping Women and their Families," which include:

? "Stopping the worst practices of the insurance industry" - This means stopping the denial of insurance to people with preexisting conditions, the end of annual and lifetime limits, and the MLR ratio requirement.
? "Keeping kids and young adults covered" - Young adults can stay on their parents' insurance up to age 26, and kids with preexisting conditions can't be denied coverage.
? "Focusing on prevention" - All new insurance plans are required to cover preventive health care without any cost-sharing, and Medicare is expanding coverage for preventative care services.
? "Keeping health care affordable" - New "high-risk" pools are an option for people with preexisting conditions, and the "donut hole" in Medicare is getting fixed.
? "Helping small businesses do the right thing" - Small businesses can get tax credits to help them provide coverage for their workers.

Whew, where to start. Independent Women's Voice has developed a great resource over at SavingOurHealthCare.org with the "Full Story on ObamaCare." The detailed page on women can be found here. Most fundamentally, CAP's blind praise of Obamacare's "benefits" to women ignores much of the story. To briefly review Pandit's points:

? "Stopping the worst practices of the insurance industry" - This means telling insurance companies how to do business. Although the "preexisting condition" mandate may be the most popular part of Obamacare, it comes with consequences. "Guaranteed issue" and the elimination of annual and lifetime limits raise costs for insurers. As their costs increase, so do our premiums.

? "Keeping kids and young adults covered" - Young adults face some of the highest unemployment rates of any group. Obamacare's effect on the job market will hurt them more than just about anyone. It wouldn't be necessary to stay on Mom's insurance if you could find a job of your own. Just watch this video.

? "Focusing on prevention" - There's no such thing as new "free" anything. There's no "free" preventative care. And about the mammograms - the government rated them "C" for women between 40-49. (That means unnecessary. I didn't say "rationing," but hey, they can't make them "free" for everyone!)

? "Keeping health care affordable" - The high-risk pools have been less utilized and more expensive than hoped, and the donut-hole fix is not really a fix. And for Americans and their families, the "Affordable" Care Act will only raise their taxes and their premiums.

? "Helping small businesses do the right thing" - Very few small businesses will benefit from this tax credit, and the credit diminishes as a company grows or raises wages. The real consequences for small businesses will be higher health-care costs, more paperwork, and less growth. American women are impassioned by the health-care-reform debate because women are often the caregivers within the home, and they often make important health-care decisions - not just for themselves, but for their dependents.

While this debate continues, it's important that we give women the full story on Obamacare instead of highlighting only the "free" new "benefits." When choices become limited and costs increase because of government involvement in the health-care system, women will be disappointed.

- Hadley Heath is a policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum specializing in health-care policy and economics.

 
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