The Affordable Care Act and You! 5 Facts Moms Need to Know

The Affordable Care Act and You! 5 Facts Moms Need to Know

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Making sure your baby is healthy isn’t a choice, it’s a right!

The dust has settled on the Affordable Healthcare Act for 2014. Or has it? Did you know that Open Enrollment for 2015 starts in less than 5 months?  (The site goes live on November 15, 2014 and is open until February 15, 2015.) A lot of people are still confused about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), what is and how it affects their families.  And who can blame them?  Even those of us who work in this field find ourselves scrambling for the “right” answers.

There are a few facts that haven’t changed since the ACA’s start.  Here are just 5 key points that ALL moms need to know when it comes to navigating through the Affordable Healthcare Act:

1.     Insurance companies are MANDATED to cover ALL children through age 19! Young adults (between ages of 19 and 26) are now allowed to stay on their parents health plan unless their employers offer health insurance.

2.   No PRE-Existing Conditions carve-outs: That means that neither you nor your children can be denied insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition like asthma and diabetes, a practice that once left about 17.6 million kids uninsured. Even better?  Insurance companies cannot charge higher rates for members with pre-existing conditions.

3.   Pregnancy and pre-natal care is a covered benefit.  For those of us who had our children in the early 2000’s it’s a relief to know that pregnancy is no longer considered a “pre-existing condition” for which we could be denied coverage.  Women-specific tests that are now covered under the ACA include:

  • Well-woman visits
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually active women.
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually active women.
  • Mammograms and Colonoscopies (since Sept 2010)

Further, and this is one that is near and dear to my heart, um, breast: Breast pumps are also a covered benefit under the ACA. In fact, Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling are all covered benefits.

4.   “You don’t eat in the bathroom, why should my child?”  How many times have you wanted to say that to someone who glared at you while you were nursing your baby?  Employers MUST offer a non-bathroom private space for breastfeeding moms to pump during the work day (for at least a year after childbirth

5.  Preventative Care including Immunizations for your children are a covered benefit.  All newborn care is considered a “preventive service” under the ACA. Providers have to give immunizations and other preventive health services for infants, children, and adolescents without any cost sharing.

6.   Not Everything Has Gotten Easier:  While critics may cite the many problems with the ACA, many folks are benefitting from this legislation.  However, one of the biggest downsides that I discovered has to do with changes to Flexible Spending Accounts. In past years it was easy to submit receipts for over-the-counter medication (OTC) like cold medicine or eye drops to one’s Medical Flexible Spending Account and be reimbursed for the cost.  Not anymore.  Now you have to get a prescription from a physician if you want to receive reimbursement. Finally, the largest allowable amount of money that may be included  in your Medical Savings Account was decreased  to $2500.

Want more information about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects you and your family, please visit the government website at www.healthcare.gov

Top 5 Family Friendly Chicago Neighborhoods

Top 5 Family Friendly Chicago Neighborhoods

 

Sweet Home Chicago!

Sweet Home Chicago!

We didn’t plan to stay in Chicago for 10 years—We expected to live there for the rest of our lives.  When we moved to the one bedroom apartment directly across from St. Mary’s of the Angels Church on Wood Street and Hermitage, in Bucktown, we knew that we had found “our ‘hood.’” We loved every aspect of living in this diverse and urban area.  But there was one aspect that we never considered:  What were we going to do when we decided to have children? Would we be able to raise a family in this area?

When you are in your mid-twenties, you don’t really think about where you are going to live when you have kids.  Just knowing where the closest Starbucks and sushi-joints are enough to convince you to move to a neighborhood.  Adam and I never thought about the quality of the local public schools or the location of the closest playground.  We didn’t even think about transportation options or kid-centric entertainment options?  Enter Lulu.

Lulu, our daughter, changed everything for us.  Loud buses and ambulances passing by on North Avenue never bothered us in the past. Now, the slightest noise, honk or siren would wake our little bundle of joy and guess what?  When she was up; so were we.

All of the sudden getting to the closest playground was a really big deal.  We had to cross two of the busiest and treacherous streets in Chicago (Ashland and North Avenue). Our urban nirvana became more like a living hell.

After spying two prostitutes “checking their voicemail” under our fire escape one Saturday morning, Adam and I started to discuss our options.  Neither one of us wanted to leave Bucktown.  But when Lulu and I were almost clipped by a taxi scurrying to get through a changing light on North Avenue, we decided that as much as we loved living in Chicago, we needed to move someplace safer, saner and family focused.  Unfortunately, that meant leaving the city.

That was eight years ago.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss living in Chicago.  After all, I am a Windy City Momma, aren’t I?

For those of you urban dwellers facing a similar dilemma, all is not lost.  I found a great resource. The Apartment Guys have a fantastic graphic on their site that serves as a guide for Chicago residents to identify the most family friendly neighborhoods. They include such factors as transportation options, parks and recreation, safety, schooling and entertainment options.  Here’s the link:

So, did they hit the bullseye with their selections, or have the Apartment Guys missed the mark?  What Chicago neighborhood gets your vote as the most family-friendly?

 

Disclosure:  The Apartment Guys sponsored and compensated me for this post.  The opinions expressed in the post are entirely A Windy City Momma’s and were not influenced by the sponsor.