Free birth control and other health care reforms go into effect

Photo: An American flag with a stethoscope laying on it for the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, and health care reform. Photo source: Google ImagesToday marks the implementation of several key aspects of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. health care reform and ObamaCare), including free birth control and coverage of crucial disease screenings.

The following services are now available without copays:

  • screening for gestational diabetes
  • counseling and screenings for HIV
  • counseling and screenings for domestic violence
  • birth control, including the pill and IUDs
  • counseling for sexually transmitted infections
  • HPV testing
  • breastfeeding support and supplies
  • pap smears

While these are important and necessary reforms, these benefit people who have insurance and are most likely employed or who have a legal family member (like a spouse or parent) who is employed. There are still millions of people who will see no change in their health care from these reforms because they are uninsured.

The Affordable Care Act prohibits sex discrimination in hospitals and other health programs or facilities receiving federal financial assistance. In recent years, courts have increasingly held that sex nondiscrimination protections prohibit discrimination against people who are transgender or who fail to conform to gender stereotypes. While there are no national laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, existing laws such as the Affordable Care Act can provide real protections in many circumstances. For more on the health care rights of transgender people, read the National Center for Transgender Equality health care reform guide.

Other vital components of health care reform—including a ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, and expanding Medicaid to include people living at 133 percent of the poverty level—will not go into effect until 2014.

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