What health care reform means for you and your family

The historic legislation was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Now what? More specifically, now what for women and children?

The health insurance reforms and newly covered benefits that are included in health reform will be rolled out gradually over the next four years. First out of the gate in six months are two changes that directly affect children and one that will help everyone:

Children with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage.
This means that sometime this fall, a March of Dimes volunteer whose baby was born prematurely and diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension who has been unable to find an individual policy because of the baby's pre-existing condition will now be able to get her daughter covered. Or another volunteer who adopted two girls and has been unable to get a health insurance policy for the youngest child because she is showing the lasting effects of her birth mother having abused drugs during pregnancy. This "pre-existing condition" has meant the family has had to pay out of pocket anytime this nine-year-old needed to go to the doctor. Before the year is out, both of these families will be able to get private insurance coverage and never again be turned away from a clinic because they lack health insurance.

Children will be able to stay on their families' policies until they reach age 26.
While some policies do allow coverage of full-time students, now sons and daughters can be covered even if they are not students.

Annual and lifetime limits on health insurance coverage will no longer be allowed.
Before their daughter was born, a family was sold an insurance policy with an $11,000 lifetime maximum for newborns. When the baby was unexpectedly born prematurely, they exceeded the baby's coverage limit in less than 24 hours. While they had to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket because their baby required a lengthy stay in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU), no other family should face such drastic consequences after this ruling goes into effect

There will be much more ahead, including guaranteed maternity coverage for all pregnant women whether they have private or public health insurance, and expanded access to coverage for the nearly 9 million children and more than 12 million women of childbearing age who are currently uninsured.

March 24, 2010

Most common 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 http://www.healthcare.gov/.

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 http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/ 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.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).