Thanks to the landmark Supreme Court ruling on health care reform, figuring out which pre- and postnatal services your health insurance policy covers is about to get a lot easier. Need to see a lactation consultant? You're covered. Need screening for gestational diabetes? You're covered. Well-baby visits? You're covered—and feel free to leave the checkbook at home because, under health care reform, this kind of visit will be co-pay-free.
What else changes for pregnant women, new moms, and babies under the much-debated Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare? We asked policy expert—and mom—Jessica Arons, director of the women's health and rights program at the Center for American Progress, to give us the scoop:
Q: You wrote a blog post calling the Affordable Care Act a "Mother's Day Gift for All Moms." Why?
A: As the mother of a toddler, I am so appreciative of the high quality, affordable care that I was lucky enough to receive when I was pregnant and postpartum. Obamacare—which has been the law of the land for two years and will be fully implemented by 2014—is working to ensure that all moms get that kind of care.
Q: What parts of Obamacare specifically affect pregnant women and new moms?
Under Obamacare, an estimated 8.7 million women will obtain maternity coverage and newborn care. In addition, women will no longer be denied health insurance coverage for gender-related "pre-existing conditions," such as having had breast cancer or a Cesarean section, or for having been the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence. And women will no longer be charged higher premiums—to the tune of $1 billion more per year—just for being women. All of these reforms will go into effect in another 18 months.
Q: Are there insurance protections pregnant women and new moms benefit from right now?
A: Yes, already, 45 million women have received access to recommended preventive services including mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and well-baby and well-child care—with no co-pays or deductibles. And starting this August, other preventive services for women, such as contraception, gestational diabetes screening, lactation support, and annual well-woman care will also be added to the list.
Nursing was very challenging for me in the beginning and I was only able to get through it with help from my local breastfeeding center. I am thrilled to know that most women with private plans will soon receive these services free of charge.
Q: What about kids? They seem to get lost in the shuffle in the health care debate.
A: Many moms now have peace of mind because of Obamacare. Seventeen million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage because of an illness. And adult children can stay on their parents' plans up to age 26. We worry enough about our kids when they're sick; the last thing we need is to have to think about how to pay their doctors' bills.
Sound good? For many babies, new moms, and moms-to-be, the answer is a resounding yes. But Arons underlines that the court's ruling is not the final word on health care reform, especially as detractors vow to challenge the laws back in the legislative branch. Still, she's staying positive, saying, "Women have gained too much under health reform to go back now."