Ed. note: This blog is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Blog. The original post date was May 6, 2016. Read the original post.
Our communities are shaped by the health of our nation's mothers and babies.
But sometimes it can be a challenge to take the steps we need every day to stay healthy. Somewhere between the morning rush, a packed day at work, and all of the practices and homework — we need to remember to eat well, stay active, and help our families stay healthy, too.
So I know how vital it is to have a little help in staying healthy. This Mother's Day, we're highlighting some of the tools that help women like me take care of our children and, just as importantly, ourselves. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, women have more resources to do just that, with greater access to health coverage and protections than ever before.
About 9.5 million women have gained health coverage since the Affordable Care Act took effect. And health insurance is better for every woman, no matter where she buys it. There are no longer annual or lifetime dollar limits on coverage, and insurers can no longer charge women more based solely on their gender or deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions.
But getting an insurance card is just the first step. Because of the ACA, health insurance sold today offers many preventive services at no out-of-pocket cost to help women and babies get the care they need to lead healthy and productive lives.
That means you can get a well-woman visit, prenatal care, breastfeeding counseling, and screening for gestational diabetes or depression at no extra cost. There may also be preventive services available at no out-of-pocket cost for babies, such as screenings for developmental health, behavioral health, and conditions like sickle cell anemia.
These benefits are important support for families, but as any new mother knows, making time to use them can be half the battle. There's a lot to remember when you're pregnant or a new mom. Which medications should you avoid during pregnancy? When does your baby need his vaccinations? These were questions I asked, too.
That's why services like Text4baby can be such useful tools. Now, if you're expecting, you can sign up for free text messages — in English and Spanish — to help guide you through a healthy pregnancy and your baby's first year. It helps to answer all these questions moms might have with text messages that contain essential information and reminders. There also is a 1-800 number included in the messages that you can call in case you have questions.
As of last month, Text4baby reached 1 million new and expecting mothers. And the team at Text4baby is now working closely with us at HHS to do even more. Through a pilot project, Text4baby is testing innovative outreach efforts to help increase enrollment, help more people access state-specific resources, and learn how the Text4baby service can have an even greater impact on the health of its subscribers.
If you'd like to find out more, for yourself or any new or expecting moms you know, text BABY to 511411 for English or BEBE to 511411 for Spanish. Text4baby sends three text messages a week, coordinated to match the timeline for your pregnancy and your baby. And it's all free, whether or not you have a text messaging plan, thanks to the support of the CTIA Wireless Foundation and participating mobile operators.
Moms have a lot on their plate, but with the ACA and Text4baby, we can help make their health care a little easier.
Happy Mother's Day!