By far the most important change for pregnant women in the Affordable Care Act was the provision saying that all health plans have to include maternity coverage as an essential health benefit. (Before Obamacare, just 12% of plans on the individual market covered pregnancies.) But the ACA didn’t stop there– it also provided pregnant women with more choices on how to give birth, by expanding access to midwives and birth centers.
In a piece for healthinsurance.org, Rob looks at why more women are choosing to give birth outside of hospitals, and how Obamacare has helped make that choice possible. Here’s a sample:
Elizabeth Criss knows all about the stigmas attached to giving birth outside of a hospital. “When I told my husband I was being interviewed about why we chose a birth center, he said I should just quote Jim Gaffigan: ‘We’re both lazy and the hospital was soooo far … the midwife was there because we believe in witchcraft.’”
In truth though, Criss did a lot of research into different birth options, and found that for low-risk pregnancies like hers, outcomes for babies are similar at birth centers and hospitals. Also, she had reservations about how quickly hospitals turn to medical and surgical interventions, which come with their own health risks; and she knew that if something happened, the midwives at her birth center, The Midwife Center in Pittsburgh, have admitting privileges at a nearby medical center. Plus, she’d been going there for well-woman visits for years before planning to become pregnant – the atmosphere was more homey and she felt more listened to than with past doctors.
“When you’re pregnant, there’s a lot going on physically and otherwise,” says Criss. “I liked that the care was more comprehensive and whole-person centered, and they don’t treat it like you’re just a uterus.”
Criss says she was happy with her experience at The Midwife Center, and she’s glad she had that option. Now, thanks to Obamacare, it’s a choice available to more women.