Supreme Court Ruling Ensures Health Coverage for Women with Ovarian Cancer

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance responded to today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act with a statement from Cara Tenenbaum, Vice President for Policy and External Affairs:

“We are relieved that patient protections in the Affordable Care Act will remain in effect, thanks to today’s Supreme Court ruling. Women with ovarian cancer benefit from a number of provisions in this law, including the elimination of lifetime and annual limits on benefits, the guarantee that insurance companies will issue coverage and prohibitions on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. These provisions will help ensure that women diagnosed with or at risk of developing ovarian cancer have access to the health care services they need.”

The Supreme Court addressed four issues in this case: First, is now the right time to hear the case? The court ruled that it was, and went on to decide the merits of the case. Second, is the individual mandate—the requirement that all Americans buy insurance—constitutional? Because the penalty for not purchasing insurance is a fine levied through taxes, the court ruled that the mandate is constitutional as a tax. There are other potential powers under which Congress could have required the purchase of insurance, but the court found the taxing power to be the only constitutional one. The third issue was the question of what fell with the mandate. Since the mandate stands the court did not address this issue. The fourth issue was around Medicaid expansion. The court ruled that the expansion is allowable, but that Congress cannot take away existing Medicaid funding from states—it can only grant or withhold new funds related to the expansion.

Provisions in the ACA that could affect women with ovarian cancer include the following:

  • Requires everyone to have insurance, except those below 100 percent of the poverty line
  • Provides insurance subsidies for those with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line
  • Expands Medicaid eligibility to Americans with income up to 133 percent of the poverty line; does away with disease-specific requirements
  • Eliminates lifetime and annual limits on benefits
  • Requires insurance companies to guarantee and continue coverage
  • Creates high risk insurance pools for people who can’t get insurance on the market currently
  • Requires coverage of women’s health preventive services without a co-payment
  • Prohibits excluding patients with pre-existing conditions from insurance plans
  • Eliminates gender rating, the practice of charging women more than men for comparable health insurance
  • Provides coverage for those enrolled in clinical trials

Approximately 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. It is the deadliest gynecologic cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths for women.

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