As a voting deadline looms, Republican U.S. House leaders are looking for some changes to the American Health Care Act, which is supposed to repeal and replace Obamacare. A proposal to strip a requirement that insurance plans provide, as the Affordable Care Act calls them, "essential health benefits," is being debated, and those essential health benefits currently include pregnancy, maternity care, and newborn care. So what did Obamacare do for pregnant women? How did the Affordable Care Act (ACA) help them upon it's passing — and what could potentially be taken away should the new AHCA pass?
According to the Detroit Free Press, "under the law as it stands now, every health plan offered on the Obamacare exchanges must cover the following services (according to the federal government's Healthcare.gov website)" and the list includes pregnancy and maternity care, as well as newborn care, both before and after birth.
NBC News reported that the issue is, "controversial to some, who ask why men should pay for a service they'll never use." David Cutler, a Harvard University economics professor who helped design the Affordable Care Act, stated: "It is true that women get pregnant but men kind of help them get pregnant." According to that outlet, Pre-ACA, 62 percent of people with non-group policies had no maternity benefit.
So before the passing of Obamacare, a majority of people with non-group policies didn't have maternity care benefits. After, that sort of care was required. That's a huge percentage of women who could potentially need pregnancy, maternity, and newborn coverage covered by the rules of the ACA.
NBC News also reported that rehabilitative services and habilitative services are included under the "10 Essential Benefits" of Obamacare — the things that all health insurance policies taking part in the ACA marketplaces have to cover. That includes treatment for kids with autism or cerebral palsy — which could impact pregnant women if their child ends up with either.
The Huffington Post reported that removing the maternity care requirement, "would return the health care system to a time when women faced a high price simply because of their gender." Without Obamacare, women often had to pay thousands for a maternity coverage rider and often had higher deductibles. Because more expensive insurance is just what women need when they might be considering getting pregnant and raising a child, right?
Elle reported that the bill also defunds Planned Parenthood for at least one year, with no provision to re-fund the organization. That means that any pregnant woman seeking affordable, safe health care from Planned Parenthood, or any woman who might need access to the organization in the future, would be affected by the passing of the AHCA.
Under Obamacare, some state Medicaid programs were expanded to cover more people, including those with disabilities, individuals who make $15,000 or less yearly, and families of four making $31,000 or less per year each year, according to Planned Parenthood. Most Planned Parenthoods accept Medicaid, so losing that expanded coverage would affect pregnant women who rely on the nonprofit for care.
Those are just some of the ways Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, helped pregnant women. The passing of the American Health Care Act could strip many of them away, leaving millions of women without adequate maternity, pregnancy, and newborn health care. Contact your representative now to let them know this loss of coverage for women is unacceptable.