When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2009, it opened up two new points of access for consumers: The Medicaid Expansion and the Exchange. These two programs, combined, have provided access to coverage for more nearly 900,000 Ohioans.
However, the majority of Ohioans still have insurance through employer-based plans. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 150 million Americans get coverage through their employer, and 80 percent of them are pretty happy with the coverage. Over the past nine years, the ACA brought advancements and innovation in these types of plans as well – from what’s covered to creating medical homes and incentivizing patient-focused care.
Two of the most popular provisions of the ACA are protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and the coverage of essential health care benefits. More than 4.8 million Ohioans have a pre-existing condition and the ACA put all patients on a level-playing field, regardless of their medical history. Essential health care benefits ensured that plans covered screenings, well-visits, and behavior and women’s health – leading to a transformation of the industry from what some industry insiders call “illness care” to “sick care.”
At a women’s health panel discuss in Columbus last week, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP and former chief policy officer at the Ohio Department of Insurance, Doug Anderson, said, “Women face unique challenges that threaten access to care. That’s why I’m glad the insurance providers in our state take this seriously and why it is vital health insurance plans continue to provide peace of mind to all women and ensure women have coverage so they can get the care they need, when they need it.”
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, women are benefiting from the advancements in patient-focused care and technological innovation. By including preventative and women’s health in the list of essential health care benefits, barriers were removed from women getting the care they need. However, much more work needs to be done to let women know of these powerful services that are provided to them — and at no extra cost.
Here’s one example of the true impact it’s making:
Kathryn Maynard was diagnosed with thyroid disorder that resulted in surgery and the need for daily medication. She is also a busy working mother of two young girls.
“As someone with a pre-existing condition, I want my elected representatives to recognize the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in ensuring my access to a health plan that helps me stay well all while getting the best from private coverage,” Maynard said.
Through her insurance, Maynard was provided more preventive and care coordination services, which enhanced her disease management success. Health plans are innovating in spaces like telehealth and online services which make it easier to track her health, view records and test results, and offer more efficient care to the public in general.
“Between work and caring for my small children, it’s easier for me to communicate with my doctor through email on their website,” Maynard said. “My health plan is working to coordinate my care so that I lead the most healthy life possible.”
Maynard went on to say, “We should strengthen the ACA’s patient protections, quality guarantees, and continue to promote the innovations that are happening in health coverage, not go the other way.”