Why We Need the Affordable Care Act

March 20, 2012

March 23 marks the two-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And on Monday, March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments on the law’s constitutionality. As these significant dates draw nearer and as critics continue to call the law’s value into question, it’s worth reminding ourselves just what the ACA has already done for millions of young Americans — and how it will help so many more when it is fully implemented.

The law

  • Requires group health plans and insurers to make dependent coverage available for young adults until they turn 26, regardless of student status or financial support from their parents. As a result, 1.1 million young adults ages 19–25 were extended coverage under their parents’ benefits from 2009 to 2010.
  • Expands Medicaid to cover more people. The upcoming expansion in Medicaid will cover millions more Americans living just above the poverty line who find health insurance prohibitively expensive.

Research demonstrates how the odds of having access to insurance coverage are especially stacked against young women. Women benefit tremendously from the ACA. Through several of its provisions, the law

  • Covers preventive treatments with no co-pays. Many women forego preventive treatments such as breast cancer screenings or Pap smear tests because of the costs of these procedures. The law will also grant women access to contraceptives without co-pays or cost-sharing.
  • Prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. For women, that could include being pregnant, having given birth via cesarean section, or being a survivor of domestic violence and receiving treatment for the abuse.

Americans cannot continue to refuel our economy as productive members of the workforce if they are sick, saddled with health care costs, or — in the case of young women — blatantly discriminated against by their insurance providers. As we mark the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s passage, it’s important to recall the law’s remarkable progress in fixing a broken health care system that, for too long, has cost too much and served too few.

As the Supreme Court case and other implementation decisions unfold, women and young people should agree that making sure the ACA reaches its full potential is something that is worth fighting for.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Julie Seger.

AAUWguest By:   |   March 20, 2012


  1. kathe1223 says:

    Let’s keep this ACA moving along.

  2. JRhodes says:

    The continued assault on Planned Parenthood means that lower income women without health insurance have even fewer options for getting preventative health care and testing. It is important that ACA – and access to that care – is preserved.

  3. VAD says:

    Amen. Coverage for Viagra but not hormone imbalance? In the words of Gloria Steinem, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

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