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Occasional Paper

Publication Date



This paper explores the promise of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare” (referred to here as the ACA), with attention to the ways gender matter by tracing the development and implementation of key US social protection systems, an examination of the current health system with particular attention to women’s coverage, and the potential impacts of the ACA, including how it conforms to international human rights norms for health care. The ACA promises to vastly improve the key dimensions of health coverage in the US, but it conforms with other US social policy by relying on market-based mechanism and individual states to implement key components. In doing so it embodies long-standing gender, racial and ethnic institutional biases that will result in uneven and incomplete coverage.


Commissioned by UN Women for Progress of the World’s Women Report.

CENTER FOR SOCIAL POLICY WORKING PAPER 2014-01. Also listed as: WORKING PAPER 2014-02, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Boston.


© Center for Social Policy, University of Massachusetts Boston. All rights reserved.



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