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Affordable Care Act Provides Special Enrollment for Domestic Violence Victims

Victims of domestic violence can qualify to sign up for health coverage outside of the regular open enrollment period. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to remind people of this during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Nicole Greene is the Deputy Director for HHS’ Office on Women's Health. She says one reason a person would stay in a violent home is to keep health insurance for themselves and their children.

"A survivor of domestic violence or spousal abandonment can enroll in the affordable care act at any time.  There doesn’t have to be open enrollment or any kind of designated enrollment period," says Greene.

This rule is consistent for both the national and the state health insurance marketplaces.

Greene says domestic violence has long-term effects on both physical and mental health.

"Women that are abused are often more likely to report frequent headaches and chronic pain.  They have difficulty sleeping, poor physical and mental health, they have some activity limitations," says Greene.

A third of American women have experienced intimate partner abuse in their lifetimes.

​The problem impacts people regardless of race, economic status, age, or sexual orientation.

Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.