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Access to health coverage

  • We advocate for access to health care coverage.
  • One in five women of childbearing age is uninsured.
  • More than 8 million children under age 19 are uninsured.
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Having insurance matters for women and children

Longstanding March of Dimes policy calls for all women of childbearing age, infants and children to have access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage that meets their needs.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2011, over 13 million women of childbearing age and 7 million children were uninsured.1 Having insurance coverage affects how and whether women and children can obtain needed health care services. In 2007, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that uninsured women receive fewer prenatal services and experience greater difficulty in obtaining needed care than women with insurance. The IOM also found that 30.9 percent of children without insurance have no usual source of medical care, compared with only 2.6 percent of children with private insurance and 4.3 percent of children in public insurance programs such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed by Congress in 2010, makes insurance coverage available to more women, children and families.  Starting on October 1, 2013, Americans can begin signing up for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces.  The law sets up new ways for people to get health coverage and offers many people help in paying for it.  The law also set new rules for how insurance companies offer coverage and how much they can charge for it. 

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, click HERE.
For more information about how to sign up for health insurance, click HERE.

Federal advocacy efforts

The March of Dimes was instrumental in developing and securing enactment of numerous ACA provisions important to women and children. These advocacy efforts included:

  • Eliminating pre-existing conditions exclusions, which make it difficult for pregnant women to find coverage
  • Requiring health plans to cover maternity care and newborn care
  • Eliminating lifetime caps on coverage, which may be especially important for preemies and children with special health care needs
  • Requiring insurance plans to cover important preventive care like well woman visits, well child visits, prenatal care, and immunizations, with no copays
  • Ensuring access to comprehensive smoking cessation treatments for pregnant women on Medicaid

More recently, the March of Dimes has directed its efforts to make sure that the implementation of the ACA protects and improves maternal and child health. For instance, the March of Dimes is working with other advocates and federal officials to ensure that pregnant women and children face no unintended gaps in coverage or barriers to care as the ACA takes effect.  The March of Dimes is advocating for comprehensive coverage for all individuals and against waiting periods or other potential delays in coverage.  Over time, the March of Dimes will monitor ACA implementation and administration and will continue its efforts to ensure that the law benefits women, children and families. 

State advocacy efforts

March of Dimes chapters advocate for greater access to health care coverage for women of childbearing age, pregnant women, children and families. As states have moved to implement the ACA, March of Dimes chapters have engaged with state policymakers on a wide range of initiatives to ensure that maternal and child health is recognized and addressed.  Chapters have been successful in securing maternal and child health representation on Marketplace boards, eliminating cost-sharing for prenatal care, and guaranteeing that the quality of care of delivered to pregnant women and children will be measured.  Because states play a vital role in ensuring access to insurance for their residents, March of Dimes chapters will continue to work with them actively so the needs of women, children and families are served. 

See also: Data Book for Policy Makers, March of Dimes contribution to CHIP reauthorizaion, What health reform means to you and your family

Have questions?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is happening with health care reform?

While some provisions take effect this September (see our In-depth article), the new law will not fully go into effect until 2014. In the interim, the March of Dimes is reviewing and commenting on the rules for implementation that are being issued by the Administration.

The March of Dimes will update this site on items that directly affect women of childbearing age, infants and children, but to get even more information about all of the advances, visit

Where can I find out about getting insurance coverage for my child?

The first place to inquire is with your state insurance commissioner's office. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has a Web site to help parents determine if their children are eligible for free or low-cost health coverage under the reauthorized Children's Health Insurance Program. Visit for more information.

Why did the March of Dimes support health care reform?

Since our founding, the March of Dimes has worked to shape public policy that affects maternal and child health. Health reform offered an unparalleled opportunity to improve the health of and address the needs of women, infants and children. Specifically:

  • Expanding and improving coverage for maternity and pediatric care
  • Strengthening Medicaid (which covers more than 40% of all births)
  • Increasing the number of currently uninsured women of childbearing age and children who will be covered in 2014

By law and longstanding tradition, the March of Dimes is strictly nonpartisan and remained nonpartisan throughout the debate. Initially, we worked with members with many different views and party affiliations, but as the debate went on, we focused our energies on ensuring that legislation likely to be approved contained the strongest provisions possible to address the unique health needs of children and pregnant women.

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