On this Mother’s Day, I woke up with a sincere gratitude that comes with having three children who are healthy and thriving. I am also thankful for my own good health, as well as that of my husband’s. Before becoming a mom, I had taken much of my good health for granted as I assume most young people do. But once I began the journey of motherhood, it was an obstacle course of doctor’s visits, medical tests, ultrasounds, vaccinations, X-rays, E.R.visits, and hospitalizations. Becoming a mom is a huge wake- up call to what is good and what still needs improvement in our healthcare system.
Being in the profession grants me an advantage over many other families. Or so one would think. My first son was born during my third year of residency training, when the new childhood pneumococcal vaccine was introduced. It was held as a revolution in reducing the incidence of bacterial pneumonia and meningitis. Although I was able to provide it to my clinic patients, mostly Tenncare Medicaid families, I had to take my son to the health department to get this valuable vaccine at a reduced cost. Our private insurance hadn’t yet covered the vaccine, which was almost two hundred dollars out of pocket. That was the first time I questioned why the premiums I paid do not go back to the health care of my child.
My generation of physicians in training got to witness the effectiveness of this vaccine in evolution over a fairly short period of time. In the beginning of my residency, it was commonplace to see children with bacterial pneumonia and meningitis, often caused by pneumococcus. By the end of my training, we saw a significant decline in admissions for bacterial pneumonia. And for the first time ever, we had more admissions for viral than bacterial meningitis. The former often is benign but the later can be devastating. The vaccination was available for many of low income families, through Tenncare, the state’s form of Medicaid. And though it still is an ever changing endeavor in the dynamic field of medicine, it provided the necessary vaccine at the right time to the most vulnerable and made the biggest impact in the process.
On this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for the provisions in the Affordable Care Act that benefit moms and their families. That 80% of our paid premiums will go back to the actual health care is an honest way of getting what we paid for. Preventive visits, routine screening of hearing, vision and developmental delays, and vaccinations should be covered at no additional cost. Don’t we all pay enough for coverage - shouldn’t we get covered for what is most important for our families?
Celebrate this Mother's Day, and start of National Women's Health Week, by telling the important women in your life how the Affordable Care Act benefits them and those they love.
You can learn more about how the ACA benefits women and families by clicking here.
Happy Mother’s Day to all,
Anna Tran, MD
Texas State Director