Michelle Obama: What Every Mother in This Country Deserves

Back when Barack and I were first starting out and building our life together, our finances were a constant source of stress. For years, we struggled to pay off our student loans and pay down our mortgage while keeping up with childcare bills and all the other expenses that come with having a family.

But we were lucky: we had jobs that gave us health care. So twelve years ago, when our baby daughter Sasha woke up sick one night, I didn't think twice about taking her to the pediatrician in the morning, because I knew our insurance would cover the cost of that visit. And thank God I did, because our doctor took one look at her and sent us straight to the emergency room, worried that Sasha might have meningitis — a diagnosis that was later confirmed at the hospital.

During the three long days Sasha spent in the hospital, our only worry was about our baby girl's health. The care she received probably cost thousands of dollars, but we didn't spend a single minute worrying about money because we knew our insurance plan would cover the bills.

Every mother in this country deserves this kind of security for herself and for her family — and more than anything else, that's really what the new health care law is all about.

The law is already helping millions of women and families across the country by letting young people stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old and requiring insurance companies to cover preventive care — things like flu shots, mammograms, vaccines for kids, and so much more. Insurance companies now also have to cover birth control, and they won't be allowed to charge you more just because you're a woman (believe it or not, some insurance companies have been charging women 50 percent more than men for the same coverage — that will soon be illegal). In addition, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against you and charge you outrageous rates if you have a pre-existing condition like asthma, breast cancer or HPV.
If you don't currently have health insurance, under the new law, there's now a simple way to get coverage that fits your needs and your budget, no matter how much money you make. All you need to do is go to the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov, and you'll find a range of insurance choices all in one place, lined up side by side and explained in easy-to-understand language. You can compare what each plan covers and how much each plan costs, and you can then choose the plan that works best for you and your family. It's your health, made simple.

Depending on your income, you may be eligible for discounts on your monthly premiums; people with the lowest incomes may be eligible for free coverage. And the majority of people without insurance today will be able to find a plan for under $100 a month.

No matter what plan you choose, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that if you or your child gets sick or has an accident, you won't have to worry about going into debt to pay your medical bills. And if you lose your job, or your spouse loses his or her job, you won't have to worry about losing your health insurance too.

So if you've wanted insurance, but you haven't been able to afford it before now, be sure to go to HealthCare.gov and sign up. And make sure that everyone you know gets signed up too — talk to your friends, family members and colleagues, and send them to HealthCare.gov.

I'll never forget what we went through with Sasha during those terrifying days in the hospital. I'll also never forget all the checkups, vaccines, prescriptions, x-rays and more that we've been able to afford in the years since then because we were lucky enough to have health insurance. And if everyone goes to HealthCare.gov and gets signed up, soon basic health care will no longer be a matter of luck in this country, and we'll all have the security we need and deserve for ourselves and our families.