If your mom is anything like mine, she’s part doctor, part cheerleader, part chef, part justice of the peace, and all-knowing. Being a mother is a tough job (and one we can’t outsource). However, things are starting to get a little better for mothers across the country. The United States just moved up six places in the annual Save the Children State of the World’s Mothers report – to the 25th best country in which to be a mother. Norway, Iceland, and Sweden take the top three spots, while Yemen, Afghanistan and Niger rank at the bottom. Our leap in the rankings was mostly due to educational improvements for mothers, but we still have improvements to make in many policy areas, especially health. For instance, we must face the sobering reality that a mother in the United States is fifteen times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than a Greek mother, and a child in the United States is four times more likely to die than a child in Iceland. We also lag behind in maternity leave policies, since the United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid maternity leave.
Luckily for mothers, the Affordable Care Act is at work to improve maternal health! The Affordable Care Act cares for moms many ways, with more improvements on the way.
Some provisions of the law are already helping mothers.
- Right now, the ACA mandates that most companies provide nursing mothers time and a private place to express milk, allowing mothers to return to work and still ensure their children enjoy the benefits of breast milk. While the benefits to the baby are numerous, mothers also benefit from breastfeeding, with decreased sick days and lower incidences of postpartum depression, obesity, and breast and ovarian cancers.
- Children up to age 26 can now be covered on their parents’ insurance plans, creating peace of mind for parents of young adults.
- Currently, free preventative services, like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings, help moms stay healthy for their families. Pregnant women can now also receive a screening for gestational diabetes.
And there will be major improvements in August of this year!
- Beginning August 1 of this year, most women will have access to the full-range of FDA-approved contraceptives without co-pays or deductibles. Contraception obviously allows women to choose when to become mothers, resulting in healthier parents, children and communities. Other benefits include a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and osteoporosis.
- Also beginning this August, nursing mothers will also receive nursing support, supplies, and counseling from their insurance companies when they give birth.
And looking to the future, 2014 will also bring great things for mothers!
- When the health insurance exchanges begin functioning in 2014, maternity coverage will be a mandatory component of insurance sold on those exchanges.
Mothers do so much work that goes unrecognized and un-thanked, so let’s make sure we do right by our 85.4 million mothers. The Affordable Care Act recognizes that healthy mothers are essential to raising the next generation of healthy Americans and works hard at providing them with the resources they need to do so.
Watch out Norway—with the Affordable Care Act, we are coming for your title!
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!