How the Affordable Care Act Affects You & Your Familyby Katlyn Joy
Any parent knows just how important health care and insurance is to a family. The stress of keeping your family cared for and adequately covered weighs heavily on parents.
The new Affordable Care Act should ease some of that burden for many families. From extending coverage and guaranteeing certain options previously out of reach for many, the legislation will change the health care picture for the entire country.
How Women are Affected
One big shift is that women will now have parity in insurance premiums. Previously women have shouldered an unfair portion in paying based on gender alone. Nearly a third of insurance plans charge women 30 percent higher rates than men for the same coverage. This will end under the Affordable Care Act.
Preventative care such as Pap smears, contraception, mammograms, well woman visits, domestic violence screenings, screenings and counseling for STI and HPV, and HIV testing will be available free of copay under the Act.
Under the Act, women cannot be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions including pregnancy.
How Pregnant Women are Affected
Women who are pregnant are well protected under the health care coverage of the Act, including requiring insurance companies to cover maternity and newborn care as part of their essential health benefits. Previously many women were unable to access maternity benefits under their plans or had lengthy waits at least.
Screenings for gestational diabetes will be required offerings to pregnant women as well. Gestational diabetes is performed between the 24 and 28th week of pregnancy and will help prevent possible pregnancy complications, as well as helping moms to prevent the eventual onset of Type 2 diabetes linked to this pregnancy condition. Also, children born to moms with gestational diabetes are more likely to grow into obese adults.
The Act also provides for improved choices in childbearing as freestanding birth centers will be covered as long as they meet mandatory minimum standards. Midwives, birthing centers and other such options will no longer be provided only for select families with resources.
Pregnant women who smoke will have coverage for cessation programs and helps such as counseling and treatments. This will improve the health of women, babies and all families.
Babies and Children
Children who are born with significant medical needs or challenges will no longer be denied coverage as having pre-existing conditions, nor will their families have to bear increased premiums in order to have the children covered.
Breastfeeding moms will be given support, counseling and supplies under the new health care act. Also, women will be given a private area to pump milk for their nurslings up to one year in age. This cannot be a bathroom, however. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this policy.Women must also be given adequate break time in order to pump milk for their babies.
Another big relief is on down the road, when your child is in transition but not yet fully independent. Parents will have the option of keeping their children covered by their insurance until age 26.
Newborn care will be guaranteed and vision and dental services are considered part of the essential health services provided.
Providing women and babies with improved coverage and health care will enable families to get preventative care that will reduce costs to everyone and will result in healthier families. Having increased access to screenings will reduce chronic diseases in women and their offsping. THis will result in a better quality of life for families, longer earnings, and lower health costs over a lifetime. The benefit on a personal level will be allowing families to feel less of a burden and more secure in their future, knowing the will not have to worry about how to obtain health services for their family.
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