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Health reform to reduce women's premiums

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) holds up a copy of President Obama's health care reform bill alongside Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and tea party supporters at a press conference on repeal of the bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 21, 2012. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) holds up a copy of President Obama's health care reform bill alongside Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and tea party supporters at a press conference on repeal of the bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 21, 2012. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- More than 20 million women with private health insurance have received preventive care without a co-pay under the Affordable Care Act, U.S. officials say.

The healthcare reform law, signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, requires health insurance plans to cover preventive services with no co-pay or deductible for preventative healthcare such as mammograms or Pap smears. Studies show requiring co-pays is a barrier for health screenings, White House officials said.

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"Before the law, women could be charged more for individual insurance policies because they were women. A 22-year-old woman could be charged 150 percent the premium that a 22-year-old man paid," a statement by the White House said. "In 2014, insurers will not be able to charge women higher premiums than they charge men. In addition, the law takes strong action to control healthcare costs, including helping states crack down on excessive premium increases and making sure most of premium dollars go for healthcare and not administration or overhead."

Before the Affordable Care Act became law, health insurance companies selling individual policies could deny coverage to women due to "pre-existing conditions," such as pregnancy.

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"In 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition. Already, insurance companies are banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition," the statement said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, all Americans in new insurance plans can choose any primary care provider, obstetrician-gynecologist or pediatrician in their health plan's network, or emergency care outside of the plan's network, without a referral, officials said.

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