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Women of Color Celebrate "MamaCare"

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(Beginning tomorrow, August 1, health insurance companies will be required to cover women’s preventive care without extra charges. As other provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue to unfold over the next few years, more women will gain further access to affordable preventive health care. Countdown to Coverage has been marking the days leading up to August 1 with posts about how ACA – often called “Obamacare” by its opponents — will benefit women, while pointedly rebranding the act “MamaCare.”

The following reposted feature was written by Rebecca Spence, of the American Pacific Islander American Health Forum, and Marissa Spalding, of Black Women’s Health Imperative.)

We love MamaCare! Thanks to the health care law, on August 1 all new health insurance plans will have to provide pregnant women with coverage for gestational diabetes screening without charging us expensive co-pays and deductibles. Women of color and their babies stand to gain the most from this enormous benefit.

So, why do we see screening and treatment for this condition as an essential benefit for women of color?

Women of color with gestational diabetes are at high risk of preterm birth, cesarean sections, extra large babies, and high blood pressure (preeclampsia). Also, children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of obesity and developing Type 2 diabetes themselves.

While very little is understood about the significant differences between ethnic groups and subgroups, we do know that Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) women are more likely to suffer from gestational diabetes than are women of other racial and ethnic groups. In fact, Asian and Pacific Islander women in one county in California had the highest rate of gestational diabetes among all racial and ethnic groups, nearly twice the rate of white women. Among all AA and NHPI women who develop gestational diabetes, Native Hawaiian and Filipino women are more likely to suffer the poorest outcomes.

Gestational diabetes also has a serious impact on black women. Although gestational diabetes resolves after pregnancy, black women who develop diabetes during pregnancy are nearly 10 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than women of other racial and ethnic groups. Women of color and their babies are also at increased risk of developing complications during pregnancy.

Given these differences in incidence of gestational diabetes among our communities, we are glad that this is one of many provisions that will be in effect in all new health insurance plans starting on August 1. Pregnant women between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation—or at the first prenatal visit for pregnant women identified to be at high risk for diabetes— should have coverage for gestational diabetes without expensive co-pays. Because of the new health care law, this coverage will be in all new health plans, and will be phased into existing health plans as they make enough routine policy changes to qualify as “new” plans under the law.

We believe the health care law will close the gap in care and treatment by providing women of color access to a broad range of preventive services. MamaCare also ensures that women with gestational diabetes can continue to get screening after giving birth in order to monitor their health.

MamaCare will help women of color have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. That’s what MamaCare is all about!

For more information on the importance of gestational diabetes screening, please visit the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum website.

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