As Mother’s Day approaches, state policymakers can do right by women — and the children they’ll have in the future — by taking advantage of health reform’s Medicaid expansion.
Up to 6 million uninsured women between the ages of 19 and 44 may become eligible for coverage if all states expand their Medicaid programs, as our recent
explains. Because low-income women encounter glaring gaps in coverage under Medicaid, they are often only eligible for Medicaid while they are pregnant and for a short period of time after (see chart). In states that choose to expand their Medicaid programs, health reform will fill in these gaps by ensuring continuous coverage for most women earning up to 138 percent of the poverty line (about $16,000 for an individual and $27,000 for a family of three).
Providing health coverage to low-income women irrespective of whether they are pregnant results in better outcomes for both the women who gain coverage and their future children. Here’s why:
Health coverage before pregnancy allows women to receive preventive care like regular doctor visits, tobacco cessation programs, and substance abuse services. When women have access to these services, their own health risks decrease and their babies are more likely to be born healthy.
And health coverage between pregnancies can improve the outcomes of subsequent pregnancies by giving women access to treatment for diabetes and hypertension, clinical interventions focused on combating family violence, depression, and stress, and other forms of parental support.