What The New American Health Care Act Could Mean For Moms & Babies
Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hasn't been repealed, major updates to how Americans receive health care are in the works. The latest health care reform bill, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and passed by House Republicans this week as part of an ongoing effort to replace the ACA, includes substantial changes in the health coverage people could receive. Parents, families (especially lower-income families) and children could see some significant differences in their insurance plans if the Senate approves the bill.
President Obama and Congress first passed the ACA, known as "Obamacare," in 2010 with the goal of increasing the quality, availability and affordability of health insurance for more than 44 million Americans. Though it helped millions of people without health insurance get covered, some have called for it to be reformed because of still-too-high premiums and deductibles, a government mandate to have health insurance, and other issues. In January, President Trump and Congress took the first steps to dismantle the ACA with their own alternative plan, referred to as "Trumpcare." Another version of the bill failed to pass both chambers of Congress earlier this year; this is the latest attempt at a replacement health care act.
Here's what the new plan could mean for moms, babies and families:
Pre-Existing Conditions Could Affect Coverage Again, Especially for Some Women
An AHCA amendment passed by Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey allows insurance companies to potentially charge higher premiums based on a person's current health and medical history, as insurers used to before the ACA outlawed the practice. That could be bad news for some women, particularly moms. Though Republican lawmakers stress that nothing in the act permits health insurance issuers to charge discriminatory rates for health insurance coverage by gender, many women’s health experts claim the opposite is true. They say the act would allow insurers to charge higher premiums and offer less coverage for those with histories of sexual assault, domestic abuse, postpartum depression, C-sections, rape and even pregnancy because all could be considered "pre-existing conditions."
Prenatal, Newborn and Maternity Care Coverage Could Be Reduced or Cut
Under the ACA, marketplace and Medicaid expansion program plans cover “essential health benefits,” including things like newborn, prenatal and maternity care. Under the AHCA, the MacArthur Amendment allows states to decide whether to waive that kind of coverage.
Contraception Costs May Go Up
States would be able to get waivers allowing insurers to drop some basic benefits that were insured under the ACA, including some contraception methods like birth control pills, vasectomies and IUDs.
Planned Parenthood Would Take a Hit
The new legislation would ban Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood for up to a year. Under the ACA, Planned Parenthood received federal funding for family planning, cancer screenings and other medical services used by Medicaid recipients. Under the AHCA, many low-income women specifically would no longer have access to subsidized reproductive care.
What This Means for You
Now that the House narrowly passed the legislation, the Senate is set to vote on the American Health Care Act in its latest form. The legislation has yet to be reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office for its financial impact, and it is also opposed in its current form by a number of prominent health groups including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the March of Dimes. But no matter what happens with this vote, making changes to government-funded health care is a priority of the current administration and many others in Washington. Your best bet is to be familiar with the details of your family's health insurance and how your coverage might be affected by a new federal health care act. That way, if and when any "repeal and replace" legislation is passed, you can have a game plan in place for how you'll adapt and what it will mean for your medical care and expenses.
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- What Babies Really Cost