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ACOG Supports Individual Mandate As Key to Women’s Health Insurance Protections

March 28, 2012

Washington, DC -- As the US Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of the individual mandate included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reiterates its support of extending health insurance to the nearly 50 million uninsured Americans.

“The Affordable Care Act functions to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable coverage with important consumer protections and essential benefits, including comprehensive maternity coverage,” said ACOG President James N. Martin, Jr, MD. “Individuals, as well as employers and government, have a responsibility to make our health care system work.”

ACOG calls for shared responsibility by individuals, employers, and governments, by building on the strengths of our current financing and delivery system with coverage requirements for employers and individuals, improved public coverage, and private insurance market reforms. The ACA ensures, and ACOG supports, insurance reforms that guarantee availability and renewability, prohibits preexisting condition exclusions, and prohibits gender rating.

These insurance reforms will work best under an individual mandate. Beginning in 2014, the ACA prohibits new insurance plans from denying women coverage on the basis of pregnancy, previous cesarean delivery, history of domestic violence, or other preexisting medical conditions. Insurance plans in both the individual and small-group markets will no longer be allowed to charge women higher premiums for the same insurance plans as men.

More than 19 million women are uninsured today. Access to affordable, meaningful health insurance is critical to women’s health. For example, women with breast cancer who have no insurance coverage are 30 percent to 50 percent more likely to die from the disease. Uninsured women are three times less likely than insured women to have a Pap test in the last three years and have a 60 percent greater risk of being diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer.

Uninsured pregnant women are less likely than insured women to seek prenatal care in the first trimester or to receive the optimal number of doctor visits during pregnancy. Maternal mortality is three to four times higher among women with no prenatal care. And uninsured pregnant women have a 31 percent higher risk of adverse outcomes, including preterm birth and low birthweight babies.

ACOG supports the many elements of the ACA that have enormous potential to improve women’s health and is working with the US Congress to ensure the law works for practicing physicians as well.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 55,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org

 

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