For the first time, all Connecticut health insurance companies will be required to cover infertility treatment for people age 40 and older. The state’s Insurance Department said that failure to provide the coverage constitutes age discrimination in violation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new requirement takes effect Jan. 1. “Limits to coverage that are discriminatory run counter to the clear intent of the Affordable Care Act and we must ensure that our state laws and guidelines are compliant,” said state Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.
Women in Connecticut have been denied health insurance benefits in violation of the federal Affordable Care Act, according to a study by the National Women’s Law Center. Connecticut is one of 15 states included in the study, which analyzed the 2014 and 2015 health plans of companies that provide coverage under the ACA in state marketplaces. It found violations in all 15 states and concluded that they are likely occurring nationwide. According to the report, Connecticut women have been denied coverage for the following: breastfeeding counseling and education after two months following delivery, infertility treatments after the age of 40, sterilization procedures, emergency birth control, and maintenance care for such things as lupus, HIV, and hormones after breast cancer treatment. Coverage was also denied for transgender transitions.
In a decision mostly divided along ideological and gender lines, the Supreme Court voted last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby to release certain companies from providing insurance coverage for contraceptives to their female employees. Simply put, at 5-4, the Supremes crawled into the LadyBusiness of America and voted to allow closely-held companies to opt out of paying for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The IRS defines “closely-held” as any company that is not a personal service organization, and has five or fewer owners who possess more than half of the stock. A 2009 New York University Stern School of Business study says that’s little more than half of private sector companies that employ around 60 million people. Though press coverage would have you think otherwise, this is not a narrowly-defined decision.
Charter Oak Health Center sits in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood – one of the city’s poorest. In an area where the median household income hovers around $17,000, Lorraine Reardon sees health issues – obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol – that are connected, at least partially, to poor diet. Reardon started work at the center as a dietitian in 2002. She focused on people who were HIV-positive, or people with AIDS, but health center doctors began referring patients to her regardless of their diagnosis. “A lot of people are trying to make ends meet with $200 a month,” Reardon said.
Attention ladies! That rundown feeling you experienced last month just might have been the weight of the government balanced on your shoulders. Case in point: October’s government shutdown is over – for now – but in recent history, the government has shut down 18 times. Six of those times – arguably seven, but let’s not quibble – have been the end result of arguments about funding women’s health and/or welfare. October’s two-week shutdown was a petulant attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – which contains an unprecedented amount of initiatives aimed at women, including extending free preventive care (birth control), maternity coverage and eliminating the so-called gender rating, where women are charged more for insurance simply because they are women.