Good News for Nebraska Women

Lately it has seemed that we have gone down a surprising road in Nebraska where pregnant women and babies are fair game in the political arena.  The heartbreaking decision by the state to terminate prenatal care for unborn children is having devastating consequences across the state.  Doctors, nurses, and health clinics have repeatedly testified since last fall about the number of women who are not receiving prenatal care, complications that have in some cases even lead to the deaths of unborn children, and the pressure on providers to fill in this critical gap and make sure at least some help is offered to ensure the health of these unborn children.  We must keep working to restore prenatal care for all unborn children and mothers in this state.

This, obviously, is not the good news.

But, despite this state level setback for Nebraska’s women and children, there is some good news on the horizon for Nebraska women and it comes from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which turned one this week.  The ACA levels the playing field for women.  Starting in 2014, insurers will not be able to consider gender when setting premiums. Finally, women will not be charged more for insurance just because they are women.  In 2014, insurers will also not be allowed to treat certain conditions like pregnancy, c-sections, and even domestic violence as pre-existing conditions, as is sometimes done now.

The provisions requiring free preventative care – which has already begun for all new insurance plans – will also help women greatly.  Key preventative screenings, including mammograms, will not be subject to co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses.  In Nebraska, 25 percent of women over 50 have not had a mammogram in the past two years.  By prioritizing preventative care and making it more accessible, the hope is that more Nebraska women will get the screenings they need.

So, while there is much work left to be done to protect the health of pregnant women and their unborn children at the state level, the ACA is helping to make women healthier.  It’s an important step in the right direction.

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