by Jessica Mason Pieklo

Like thousands of other families the recession has hit ours hard, but it could be worse. My family currently has health insurance, and both my husband and I still have jobs. We live paycheck to paycheck but still I feel lucky.

It’s a tenuous luck, a luck that is one medical emergency away from bankruptcy if we lose these protections. Even with insurance the recent c-section birth of my daughter still left us with a nearly $10,000 hospital bill, which is especially difficult to pay when there is no paid family or medical leave and returning to work means a return of childcare costs approaching $2000 a month.

But thanks to the Affordable Care Act my family can take a few steps back. We can exhale a bit. We can turn our attention to the countless other challenges we face raising children and balancing careers. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much to others, but for us it might literally be everything.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits such as hospital stays, nor can they deny coverage to any child under the age of 19 due to a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act means that all health insurance plans must cover preventative services such as contraception, mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance. Should my children reach adulthood in a time of economic contraction like we have now, they can stay on our insurance until they are 26 years old–a benefit I did not have and one that cost me thousands in uncovered medical expenses at a time when I was just trying to set out as an adult.

That all could change in the next election. The value of reproductive health care as preventative medicine is being questioned, as is the entire foundation of health care reform. Young adults may soon find themselves again without insurance, and given the current state of the economy, no employment prospects to either provide that coverage or an income to defray unexpected medical costs. Women may once again be discriminated against in terms of coverage and cost and families may find themselves kicked off insurance through no fault of their own.

At a time when women and families are facing what can seem like insurmountable challenges, now is not the time to roll back these kinds of protections. Quite simply, too much is at stake.

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival. Read more HERvotes posts by the Feminist Majority and other women’s groups.

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