In the year 2017, current, expectant and aspiring mothers face several hurdles when it comes to building a family. And it’s not OK. These hurdles include managing high child-care costs, the lack of paid family leave, and now with the possible changes to the Affordable Care Act, a lack of access to an essential health benefit: maternity care.
What you need to know:
- On May 4th, 2017 the House Republicans voted in favor of passing a law to repeal Obamacare aka the Affordable Care Act.
- Childbirth in the United States is extremely expensive and maternity and newborn care accounts for the largest category of hospital payouts for most commercial insurers and state Medicaid programs.
- More than 1 million women a year deliver a child via c-section in the United States. This type of delivery pushes women into a higher cost category for insurance purposes or disqualifies them altogether.
- Women who needed to purchase health insurance, prior to Obamacare, often faced challenging market conditions. Insurance companies often would not underwrite pregnant women or would issue insurance policies that excluded maternity care.
- Insurance companies legally were able to charge people higher premiums for having a pre-existing condition. Post-partum depression, infertility, a history of abnormal pap smears and in some cases, sexual assault and domestic violence, were considered pre-existing conditions.
- According to a National Women’s Law Center survey that was conducted a year before the passage of Obamacare, only 13 percent of individual insurance plans available to a 30- year-old woman provided maternity coverage.
- Obamacare required insurance companies to cover maternity care, deemed an essential service, and made coverage available to people with pre-existing conditions.
- The GOP argues that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced because of rising premiums and a lack of consumer choice.
- The House bill proposed to become law by Republicans in Congress, eliminates the requirement that insurance companies cover certain essential services. Many essential services like mammograms, birth control and maternity care are used primarily by women.
- The House bill threatens to tremendously cut Medicaid funds, which is a crucial source of coverage for many women’s health services. Approximately, half of all births in the United States and 75 percent of publically funded family planning services are covered by Medicaid.
- According to News One, “Planned Parenthood estimates that more than 2.2 million or 52 percent of all patient visits were by Medicaid recipients.”
- Cutting Medicaid funds would be especially harmful to African-American and Latina women, who are more likely than white women to be insured through Medicaid.
- With a cut in Medicaid, women who do not have comprehensive employer health plans or do not qualify for Medicaid, will have to anticipate possibly paying higher premiums or paying thousands of dollars out of pocket for maternity care.
So, what now?
With the passing of the proposed repeals to the Affordable Care Act in the House, the proposed law will now move to the Senate for a vote.
As a soon-to-be-mama, maternity care is an essential part of my health care plan that I am trying to navigate and utilize. Women’s rights are human rights. We birthed this nation and our essential health benefits are valuable to all people. I believe it is important that women be informed about these issues, and take all of these things into consideration when electing officials into office for local and national elections. Be informed. Seek information. Protect what matters to you and your future.
Danae Irvis is a blogger who works at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.