Mr. Romney has repeatedly promised to repeal Obamacare on day one in office. This will hurt women and families for many reasons. I'll discuss just two: Obamacare ends inequality and gender discrimination in premiums, and it ensures maternity benefits in private health insurance.
Currently, more than 30 states allow insurance companies to charge women of child-bearing age higher premiums for individual (non-job based) health insurance simply because they are women. This means that women pay higher health insurance premiums than men for the exact same coverage. In fact, some insurers have charged women of child bearing years twice as much as men of the same age for the same coverage. Higher premiums are automatic whether a woman plans to have a baby or not. Even if a woman cannot have children, she pays a higher rate. More than half the states also allow insurers to charge small businesses higher rates for women workers than male counterparts. Small business owners pay more for health insurance for women than men.
Obamacare ends this gender discrimination in premiums. Starting in 2014, insurance companies will be prohibited from charging women higher premiums than men for health insurance. Thanks to Obamacare in 2014 gender based discrimination in health insurance premiums will be illegal everywhere.
Mr. Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare. For many women this means continued discrimination in health insurance premiums.
Repealing Obamacare also means continued discrimination in the types of benefits that are covered by health insurance. Currently, health insurance sold in the individual market in most states does not cover pregnancy. In other words, maternity coverage is almost non-existent in the individual health insurance market. If a woman or a family wants to purchase it as a supplement to a policy, most insurers won't sell it; and if they do, the premium just for that benefit can be higher than a monthly premium for the insurance policy. Often, there is a nine months (or longer) waiting period for maternity benefits.
Women and families who have had kids know that prenatal care, delivery, and post-partum care is not cheap. People with individual market coverage that does not cover pregnancy know that paying for a pregnancy can bankrupt a family. Even for a relatively low risk pregnancy, families could be facing $10,000 or more in medical bills (higher for c-section delivery). Women at risk of gestational diabetes or other health conditions that could result in a high risk pregnancy could face over $100,000 in medical bills if they go into labor prematurely and have premature delivery. And babies who grow up with medical needs may have health conditions for the rest of their lives.
Obamacare ends benefits discrimination against women, families, and children. In 2014 maternity will be covered in the individual market health insurance products just like any other essential health benefit. In 2014, Obamacare ensures that insurance companies will provide women with access to prenatal care and safe delivery. Obamacare also ensures that babies who are born prematurely will have the care they need and as they grow up they will not be rejected from insurance coverage if they have a preexisting condition.
Mr. Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare, saying that people should instead go to the emergency room if they are uninsured. For women who need prenatal care, coverage for delivery, and coverage for their kids, the ER is not an answer.
Through Obamacare President Obama ends discrimination against women in insurance -- no more higher premiums, no more shutting women out of the market, no more letting insurance companies put profits ahead of women's health by excluding maternity coverage. Women should and do care about repealing the guaranteed, affordable and good coverage options that Obamacare delivers.