Mothers everywhere, let’s give a standing ovation to Obamacare.
That call to action might piss you off, since this is the time of year when Americans everywhere unite to complain about their three percent increase in health insurance costs.
Look, I’ve always been a fan of the Affordable Care Act, since it is intended to create equitable access to health care resources, regardless of income level. (Or, I might be a communist.) A recent experience, though, reminded me that mothers and women of childbearing age are definite winners in the reform, and that’s a “win” for our entire society.
Six weeks ago, I very unexpectedly got pregnant. Before you go all Rush Limbaugh on me, let’s be clear that the head-in-hands moment of looking at two pink lines on a pee stick is a very common female experience. According to the CDC, nearly half of all American pregnancies are unintended. As in, we don’t plan on them, even though we may have logically and meticulously compared health care plans during last year’s open enrollment.
In other words, I realized that my brilliant catastrophic health care purchase of 2013 wasn’t so brilliant in my changing pregnancy landscape. My insurance company explained to me that my deductible was $6,500, and that I’d owe 100 percent to the hospital and my doctor until I met that deductible. As a young mother, that would have been deleterious for my family’s tight budget. When I pressed the issue with my insurance provider, though, he said the words that were music to my ears: “You can change your plan when we have open enrollment in November. By law, we can’t prevent you from changing to a more generous plan, even though you’re an individual customer with a pre-existing condition like pregnancy.”
I’ll be swapping plans in November to decrease my deductible to an affordable amount, since my health has changed. I didn’t plan on getting pregnant, just like a person with diabetes didn’t plan on getting diabetes or a person with tuberculosis didn’t plan on getting tuberculosis. Think what you will about Obamacare, but the reform is based on the reality that we can protect our health but we cannot always anticipate our health, and we should not be penalized for obtaining a condition that is as human as life and death. Or pregnancy.
I, for one, am glad to pay three percent more in health insurance costs each year, so that I can pass along the financial protection for pregnancy to another young mother who is scared and alone while holding a pee stick with two pink lines.