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Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

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Better Benefits and Better Health for Women

Posted: 03/22/11 10:47 PM ET

It's hard to believe it's been a year since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. But in the twelve months since it was signed, the law has already given Americans more freedom and control over their health care choices. The law's key goals for America's families: better benefits and better health.

The Affordable Care Act created a Patient's Bill of Rights that put an end to the worst abuses of the insurance industry. It made it illegal for an insurer to drop your coverage when you need it most because of an unintentional error on your paperwork. And for those in new plans, it provides preventive services like Pap smears and mammograms at no cost to you. Americans are already enjoying new protections, greater freedoms, and lower costs.

In Florida, Dawn Josephson was used to just getting by with health plans that excluded important benefits for her family because of pre-existing conditions. Her son had just had eye surgery, and she was expecting even more exclusions when she went looking for a plan last year. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it is now illegal to deny children coverage because of health status. Dawn was able to find a plan without exclusions, and she got her family the coverage they needed.

In Minnesota, Lisa Doyle worried about her daughter Julie losing health coverage when she graduated from college. Lisa was unsure if Julie would find a job with coverage, and Julie had pre-existing conditions that would make individual insurance costly. But Lisa was able to keep Julie on her family insurance, thanks to a provision in the law that allows parents to keep children on their insurance up to age 26 as long as their child's employer does not offer coverage. A few weeks before Julie would have aged out of the family plan, she experienced a severe health incident -- which would have been a nightmare to go through without coverage.

As a mother, I know exactly what she means. When my sons graduated from college, they were fortunate to find jobs, but not jobs with health insurance coverage. They were lucky. They were healthy and had the resources to afford coverage. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, families will no longer have to rely on luck, and they will have better coverage options.

Across the country, moms like Dawn and Lisa are experiencing the peace of mind that comes with knowing their children are cared for. And millions of other Americans are receiving benefits and protections that are improving their health. From seniors getting help affording prescription drugs to small businesses being able to cover their employees using tax credits, the Affordable Care Act is already making a difference in people's lives.

This blog comes from MomsRising.org and CustomFitWorkplace.org. Each week it presents innovative ideas to strengthen 21st Century American families through public policies, business and workplace practices, and cultural change. Read personal stories on the health care blog-a-thon happening right now on the MomsRising blog.