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Women and the Nation & World

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

On this day, in 1920, women gained the long-due right to vote. Today, Wisconsin women and women across the nation can celebrate another victory – equality in our health care system. Traditionally, women have been treated inequitably by insurance companies. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the new health care law, unequal treatment of women and gender discrimination will be a thing of the past.

Top ways the new health care law take women’s equality to the next level:

The end of “gender-rating”

Last year, the National Women’s Law Center gave a big F-for-failure to Wisconsin when it came to protecting people from “gender-rating.” Current law in Wisconsin allows insurers to base premium amounts on things like – yup, you got it – gender. Thanks to the new health law, in 2014 insurers in both individual and small group markets will no long be able to charge women more than men for the same plan.

Denied for having a C-section, an eating disorder or having been a victim of domestic violence

Think “gender-rating” is the only place in our health care system where women have traditionally been discriminated against? Think again. Pre-existing condition denials can especially hit women hard. Women have been denied coverage because of a previous C-section, eating disorder, an incident of domestic violence, and for chronic diseases – which affect women at disproportionate levels.  Thanks to the new health care law, in 2014, no Wisconsin woman will be denied for these conditions – or any other pre-existing condition. Already, our children are protected.

LGBTQ women and women of color

LGBTQ women and women of color have faced unique barriers when accessing health care coverage and quality care.  For instance, LGBTQ women often are unable to obtain coverage through a spouse. Both communities have reported a lack of cultural competency and quality in the care they receive. LGBTQ women and women of color are also more likely to be living in poverty, making health coverage unaffordable and/or inaccessible. There are a variety of ways the new health law helps in creating more equality for LGBTQ women and women of color in health care access and care. We’ve blogged on both issues, read more here.

We are excited that these new protections from the ACA are helping to ensure women are treated equally in our health care system. Unfortunately, there have also been scale-backs of policies intended to promote equality for Wisconsin women. Last legislative session, a law was repealed that ensured a process of action in Wisconsin courts if women found that they were being paid less for the same work as men. Although the health care law is bringing us steps ahead in the health care system, it is important now, more than ever, to know where your state and federal legislators state on women’s equality issues, including equal pay for equal work and implementing the health care reform law. Check out our Ask.Learn.Vote page for more information.

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