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What Moms Need To Know About The Proposed Plan To Replace The Affordable Care Act

President Trump and Republicans in Congress want to bring big changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including plenty that will affect moms, children and families. If you’ve managed to find time between diaper changing and bottle rinsing to follow the ongoing saga of the ACA, you’re probably aware that Republican leaders have brought a bill before Congress that would “repeal and replace” the health care legislation known as Obamacare.

We've got the low-down on all you need to know about it. Here are some of the bigger changes:

  • Subsidies formerly provided to those who purchase plans on the government exchange will be replaced with smaller age- and income-based tax credits that, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, could hit the poor and elderly hard. Premiums will also go up for older Americans. Raise your hand if you are part of the “sandwich generation” — those raising kids and caring for aging parents at the same time. If this legislation passes, you could wind up having to help out Mom and Dad financially more than you were expecting to.
  • On the other hand, premiums will probably go down for younger people. In fact, according to a study done for AARP by the Milliman actuarial firm, if you're under the age of 30, you’ll most likely see your premiums decrease and you may qualify for a more generous tax credit.
  • The individual mandate, which required everyone who could afford to buy insurance to do so — including healthy people — as a means to ensure that costs wouldn't be exorbitant for those who are old and sick has been repealed. Those who opt out will simply pay a 30 percent surcharge on premiums if they opt back in. But that could mean higher health care costs for everyone.
  • Large companies would no longer be required to provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
  • Good news if your family has a health savings account through your employer: You'll be able to contribute nearly twice as much to it tax-free starting in 2018.
  • For those earning more than $774,000 a year (about 1 percent of the population), you’ll reap a tax cut averaging $33,000.
  • Medicaid expansion, which allowed 10.7 million low-income people in 31 states to newly acquire health insurance, will end in 2020, and coverage for those who are newly eligible — as well as the 70 million currently in the program, including lots of women and children — will be reduced.
  • If you are one of the millions of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control and other services, you may be out of luck, as the very existence of Planned Parenthood is now in jeopardy. That’s because the new plan denies the health care provider hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.
  • And even if you don’t rely on Planned Parenthood, your contraception coverage could be reduced or eliminated, or your choices could be limited (the ACA currently covers 18 different methods), according to a report put out by the Guttmacher Institute.

Some things will stay the same or will be similar to the original plan, including certain elements that appeal to moms and kids:

  • You can’t be denied insurance if there is a gap in your coverage, but you could pay more to get covered again — specifically, that 30 percent surcharge mentioned above. So if you leave your job to be a stay-at-home mom, make sure your coverage doesn’t lapse.
  • You can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. But those with pre-existing conditions can be charged more by way of higher deductibles and co-pays. (It’s worth noting that in the past, a C-section was considered a pre-existing condition.)
  • Dependents up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ plan — even those with their own children. (All the more reason to have kids young.)
  • Annual lifetime limits continue to be banned — a boon for anyone facing the hardship of raising a child with major medical issues.
  • Both maternity care and preventive child care services are still covered. However, because federal coverage will shift to the states by 2020, premiums for the former could rise, costs could vary significantly from state to state and it’s possible that coverage might not be available at all in some states. As an example, women in some states might wind up paying thousands of dollars for labor and delivery.

House committees will continue to tinker with the proposal this week before it comes up for a full House vote. Assuming the 218 votes necessary to pass it are there, it will then go to the Senate, where at least four Republican senators have expressed their opposition (assuming all Democrats vote against it, only two Republicans need to do the same in order for the bill to be defeated). If passed, however, President Trump will then sign the bill into law. Stay tuned. In the meantime, the Congressional Budget Office will assess the costs of the legislation.

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