Earlier this month, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced legislation that would bring universal health care to all Americans if passed, with a record-breaking number of Democratic senators backing his "Medicare for all" bill. With a Republican majority in Congress, a dream of single-payer health care might seem like nothing more than a pipe dream — but knowing how moms' lives would change if health care coverage was free makes it a dream well worth fighting for.
Universal health care would make all forms of health care, from eye care to medication to routine appointments to mental health treatment, free. Every American's health care would be paid for by taxes, and a universal system would ensure that nobody in the United States had to worry about how to pay for their health, or consider cost before seeking treatment.
"Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege," Sanders wrote on his Medicare for All page. "Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. The only long-term solution to America's health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program."
For moms especially, universal health care would be an absolute game-changer. Here are four key ways free health care would transform lives for mothers:
It Would Give Moms Time To Parent
For moms who receive health care from their employers, there's really no question about whether they can take more or less time off to spend with their children. By law, employers have to give mothers a minimum of 12 unpaid weeks off after they welcome a child.
Some moms would be willing to risk unemployment in order to stay with their infant kids longer — but at the moment, they need to question whether they're also willing to put their health care on the line, as well.
It Would Make Sure Young Moms Got Coverage
While the Obama administration made sure to close a loophole in 2015 that allowed insurers to deny prenatal care to dependents (i.e., pregnant dependents under 26 and still on their parents' health plans), some employer-based plans still exclude dependent children from maternity coverage, according to the National Women's Law Center. And even with Obama's guidance, many plans still may refuse to cover labor and delivery costs for dependents.
It Would Give Families More Financial Freedom
According to CNBC, the average family paid $9,996 in 2016 on health coverage alone — and if they met their minimum deductible, then they spent nearly $18,000 on health care in a single year. Considering that millennials are facing higher rates of unemployment and earning less money than their older counterparts, nearly $10,000 is no laughing matter.
More financial freedom would let moms put more money into child care (having that universally covered would be fantastic too, by the way) and allow them to provide nutritious food for their kids or invest in their kids' education and day-to-day health needs.
It Would Give Moms Peace Of Mind
If the many attempts made in the past few months to dismantle Obamacare have scared you, you're far from alone. Politicians' attempts to bring back health care that would re-introduce pre-existing conditions and skimp on essential health benefits have stressed out countless mothers, including those whose pregnancies or past C-sections would be considered pre-existing conditions. As well as those whose children's chronic illnesses would drive up their premiums impossibly high.
Universal health care would bring a sense of security to parents' lives that these GOP bills, like the now-killed Graham-Cassidy legislation, simply can't provide. In this fantasy scenario, moms' children would be guaranteed health care, no matter what happened at work or how empty their bank accounts became. And while single-payer health care isn't perfect — no system is — and many questions remain about Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan, it's a future that's well-worth considering. Really, imagine how much easier life would be.
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