The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, was designed to help underserved populations, most especially those unable to afford health insurance due to low income or ineligibility for coverage due to preexisting conditions. However, Obamacare also took a number of other typically neglected groups into consideration, including children, the elderly, the disabled, and women, particularly those in need of maternity-related health services. The ACA accounts for the needs of women in a variety of ways you should know about if you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.
The first benefit most women are likely to enjoy, pregnant or not, is a reduction in health insurance rates and medical expenses. Prior to Obamacare it was common practice to charge women more for the same level of insurance as their male counterparts, all things being more or less equal, on the assumption that they would eventually require maternity care. Whether you ever ended up using maternity health services was completely beside the point – the fact that women could become pregnant automatically put them into a higher “risk” category, as in risk for filing claims.
Obamacare has changed that by putting a stop to discriminatory pricing. Insurance providers can no longer charge more or deny coverage for preexisting conditions (yes, that once included pregnancy), and they can no longer charge consumers more simply for being women. In addition, many insurance providers didn’t even offer maternity coverage prior to the implementation of Obamacare. The ACA has taken strides to change these practices.
Women’s health services for which you may now receive 100% coverage have expanded under Obamacare to include not only maternity care, but also a variety of preventive services, such as well woman visits, contraception, testing for HPV, HIV, and other STDs, mammograms and colonoscopies, and even counseling for domestic and personal violence. In addition to these services, you will also enjoy maternity related coverage, from the usual doctor visits, exams, and ultrasounds to gestational diabetes screenings, and even support, counseling, and supplies for breastfeeding. Maternity care, specifically, will be required in new plans as part of the minimum essential coverage standards.
In addition to ensuring that women have access to affordable preventive and maternity services, these provisions allow women to take control of their own healthcare. Through nothing more than biological selection, the main responsibilities for propagating the human species have fallen to women. It is women who must go through pregnancy and labor, and often women are the main caregivers as children grow to adulthood. In the past, insurance providers viewed this as a liability and treated maternity as nothing more than an expensive claim.
Thanks to Obamacare, women are better able to access affordable care options before, during, and after pregnancy. They have some measure of control over the doctors and services they choose as it relates to women’s health and maternity issues. This is not only good for women, but also for families. Women that do not receive proper medical care during pregnancy may inadvertently cause harm to unborn fetuses, which can have untold consequences for children after they are born and throughout their lives. When a society takes pains to protect and nurture mothers and children, everyone benefits as a result.
Submit your questions below or start a conversation in the comments!