Happy (and Healthy) Mother's Day!

Being a mother is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs most women will ever undertake. It’s not hard to imagine how difficult that job becomes when a mother isn’t able to take care of herself. Unfortunately, for an uninsured or underinsured parent, an untreated illness can compromise a mother’s ability to take care of her kids. Consider this example from a young mother in Austin who contacted our campaign:

Allow me to give you a brief history of my battle. I am currently 24 years old and was diagnosed with a heart condition, Supraventricular Tachycardia, at the age of 22. This condition presented very soon after a battle with the H1N1 flu. I was employed but uninsured. I was hospitalized for 3 days for being in heart attack range. (FYI: I had never had any serious prior health issues prior to this.)

It quickly became apparent during my stay that medication was not able to reduce my heart rate to keep in a safe and normal range. Therefore, after consulting with numerous specialists I was told by my cardiologist that heart surgery was necessary. An appointment for the surgery was scheduled at the hospital and I was released. The cardiologist office calls me soon after to get my insurance information and once they find out I have none they cancel my surgery. I was then told that if I did not obtain insurance, my only option would be to pay $60,000 up front or the surgery wouldn't be done. I pleaded with their office and told them and explained that I couldn't afford insurance and, now that I was diagnosed with a pre-existing condition, obtaining insurance would be difficult. I proceeded to explain that my mom would be willing to pull out a loan and then make payments for the left over amount; they refused.

I tried applying for Medicaid and MAP but even though I barely get by with my current salary I still made too much money to qualify for either. The pain in my heart and the stress it caused on my body forced me to miss numerous days of work which led to me being able to reapply for MAP (Medical Assistance Program offered by Travis county) and get my surgery.

The experience taught me that the type of insurance you have dictates the type of care you receive.

The Affordable Care Act is helping make sure mothers make their own health a top priority and gives them one less thing to worry about. For example:

  • The law ensures women can access no- and low-cost preventive services, including mammograms and cancer screenings. In 2011, 20.4 million women between 18 and 64 benefitted from this provision of the ACA.
  • The law prevents insurance companies from charging women higher premiums and dropping a women’s coverage if she gets sick.
  • The law requires new health plans to offer essential benefits for women such as maternity care, newborn care and prescription drug benefits.

Being a mom is a tough job and one that shouldn’t be made harder by a lack of choice and control in health care. Together, we can help mothers have longer, healthier and happier lives.

Posted by and photo credit: Liz Moskowitz, Texans Care for Children