Throughout our history, OWL has consistently advocated for quality, accessible healthcare for all Americans. We have further emphasized the unique health concerns of women and the specific financial and social challenges women encounter in accessing care.
From the beginning, OWL actively campaigned for the elimination of age and gender ratings in insurance premiums. Before the prohibition of gender ratings by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a woman purchasing insurance coverage in the individual market could end up paying nearly twice as much as a man of the same age for the same policy.
The Affordable Care Act
In 2009 and 2010, OWL joined a diverse set of organizations in working in the development and passage of the ACA. OWL took a strong leadership position on gender and age rating of health insurance premiums and moved the dialogue forward on this topic despite strong opposition. As a result, the ACA essentially eliminated gender rating, and insurers are restricted to a 3 to 1 age ratio (rather than a 5 to 1 ratio).
OWL emphasized healthcare reform in its 2011 Mother’s Day campaign and highlighted the ACA in its 2011 Mother’s Day Report, The Affordable Health Care Act: The American Version of Health Care for All.
Recognizing that the implementation of the ACA continues to face legal, political, and logistical challenges in 2014, we call upon leadership on both sides of the aisle to work together. Opponents must recognize that the ACA is law—its constitutionality upheld by the Supreme Court. Supporters must recognize the imperfections in the law. Both sides must come together to address the law’s weaknesses and to work toward the goal of access to quality healthcare for all.
America’s long-term care system is broken and the need for long-term care services is steadily increasing. As OWL member Donna Wagner, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at New Mexico State University has noted, “one out of five workers in the United States spends an average of 20 hours a week caring for elder family members. These unpaid services have an estimated value of $230 billion a year—$20 billion more than the $210 billion that Medicaid pays each year for long-term care.
Providing these unpaid services imposes high indirect costs on employers, in the form of reduced productivity, absenteeism, a workforce whose own health is compromised by neglect and stress, and higher turnover, as workers leave their jobs to devote themselves to caregiving. All told, these problems cost U.S. employers $33.6 billion a year.”
In January, 2013, Congress established a Commission on Long-Term Care, and gave it a 2014 deadline to develop a “comprehensive, coordinated and high-quality system” of long-term care. OWL believes that it’s time for a powerful partnership of voters, representing current and future caregivers, to join with employers to demand serious solutions for our long-term care problem.