Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' blog. See the original post here.
As a mom, I know how easy it is to put the health of your family before your own. It’s hard to balance it all – from a quick run, to a busy job, to making the parent-teacher conferences, all while trying to eat a balanced diet. It can be challenging.
But as we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, which kicks off National Women’s Health Week, it’s a great time to remember you can’t take care of your loved ones, unless you take care of yourself.
For me that means eating lots of fruits and veggies, drinking water, and remembering that my emotional well-being is an important part of my health as well. Every day I try to meditate or pray for five minutes. It helps me let go of stress and reenergizes me. And most importantly, I always try to laugh.
Healthy habits are important, and when the time comes to see a health professional, the Affordable Care Act can help. It provides new benefits, protections and options for health insurance that can help every family.
Since the passage of the law five years ago, about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained health coverage, the largest reduction of the uninsured in four decades. The uninsured rate among women has dropped 7.7 percentage points since the beginning of open enrollment in October 2013, representing nearly 7.7 million women who now have access to care that they didn’t before.
And for all Marketplace plans and many others, this now includes important preventive services that address women’s unique health needs at no out-of-pocket costs, such as well-woman visits, mammograms, maternity and newborn care, breastfeeding support and supplies, and screenings for domestic violence. These and other preventive services can substantially improve the health of women and their families, and even save lives.
Americans who already had insurance are benefitting as well, now that new insurance plans—no matter where you buy them—have some of the strongest consumer protections ever.
Health insurers can no longer charge women more for coverage simply because of gender, nor can they deny a woman coverage because she’s fighting breast cancer or just had a child. The law also ended life-time dollar caps on the essential health benefits you and your family receive. Women can now have more peace of mind in knowing that their health insurance will be there when they need it most – and their family’s savings won’t be wiped out because of an unexpected illness or injury.
Still, having insurance is only a first step. Knowing how to use that insurance is just as important. We want to make sure that everyone who has coverage understands their benefits and costs and how to connect to the services they need. That’s why we’ve launched the Coverage to Care initiative to help explain costs, how to find a primary care provider, how to make an appointment and more.
Why not celebrate this week, and National Women’s Checkup Day on Monday, May 11, by scheduling a well-woman visit? Or maybe it’s time for a blood pressure screening. With most coverage, these preventive services are covered at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
This National Women’s Health Week, remember to take care of yourself, too. Your family will thank you.
One last thing: Call your mom. Happy Mother’s Day!