Raising Women’s Voices

Maternity Coverage

Posted in Health Disparities, Maternity Care, State Reform by raisingwomensvoices on March 25, 2009

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the number of individual health insurance policies in California that do not include maternity coverage has increased from around 192,000 in 2004 to about 805,000 now. With a steady increase in the number of people losing their jobs, more and more are starting to pay for private plans, which oftentimes costs less than staying on a former employer’s plan.maternity

Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-Los Angeles County) is introducing a bill that requires health insurance products regulated by the State Department of Insurance to include maternity benefits. Governor  Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has vetoed a similar bill brought forth in 2004 by then-Senator Jackie Speier, a Democrat, and one brought forth by De La Torre last year.

Those opposed to including maternity coverage say that they should not be forced to pay for a service they have no intention of using, especially because it would cause their premiums to increase. But those in support claim that for a monthly average of $7.17, society would save money if fewer women were on government supported programs.

De La Torre said, “Why do women pay for prostate cancer? Why do men pay for breast cancer? Because that’s the whole point of insurance,” arguing that excluding maternity benefits opposes the whole philosophy of shared risk.

Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York already have laws in place for maternity coverage, and Ben Singer, a spokesman for Anthem Blue Cross, claims that their costs are higher for individual insurance coverage than California’s. Pregnancy is a choice, Singer maintains, clearly overlooking the accidental pregnancies that occur yearly, unlike heart-disease or adult-onset diabetes, which is linked to poor eating and exercising habits, which can also be labeled as “choices”.

Patricia Bellasalma, president of California’s National Organization of Women, argues that not all pregnancies are by choice, and excluding maternity coverage in health insurance is discriminatory against women, the only ones in that pool. This discrimination is part of the reason Californian women pay as much as 39% more for health insurance than Californian men.

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4 Responses

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  1. MomTFH said, on April 5, 2009 at 7:34 am

    It is horrible that these plans do not cover maternity. It is a not very thinly veiled plan to not cover labor and delivery, which is increasingly becoming more expensive, especially as cesarean rates climb.

    50% of pregnancies are unplanned. Blue Cross and Blue Shield didn’t let me add coverage for my pregnancy when I found out that I was pregnant. I had recently lost a job and couldn’t afford COBRA. So, I got attracted by the low price of an individual plan, and didn’t know until the fine print that I would have to pay hundreds more a month to cover a pregnancy I wasn’t planning.

    I would have to take a negative pregnancy test at a doctor’s office and pay for a few months of insurance before I was allowed to get pregnant and have that pregnancy covered. It didn’t matter that I only took a home test, had never been seen by a doctor for the pregnancy, and had a miscarriage with a previous pregnancy. It didn’t matter that I was ready, willing and eager to pay for the maternity coverage. I was berated by the phone operator for my lack of planning.

    Some insurance companies are also refusing to cover women who have had a cesarean. In my area, 40% is a pretty typical cesarean rate at the local hospitals.

    So, if you rule out women who are paying for individual plans who weren’t planning their pregnancies and women who have had a prior cesarean, there are a lot of births for insurance companies to turn down. Not to mention the millions who have no health insurance.

  2. […] in Uncategorized by MomTFH on April 5th, 2009 This is a reply turned post from a comment on Raising Women’s Voices piece about women getting denied maternity coverage by their insurance plans. It also gives the back […]

  3. TVille said, on April 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

    One more example of punishing women for having babies. “Oh, you didn’t *know* you were going to get pregnant? Well, you certainly knew what *caused* pregnancy, so now you can suffer.”

    It also makes me crazy that insurance companies can assign premiums based on gender. I pay more than my male coworkers simply because I’m a woman. (Allegedly it has something to do with my age, and that I’m in a “prime childbearing age bracket, but whatever. It’s crap.)

    Several states have successfully passed legislation to prohibit age/gender pricing for auto-insurance, changing so that premiums are now based on the number of years a person has been driving (I think California is one of those states). I suppose this means that women need to start yelling. Maybe something will change.

  4. Paula said, on June 11, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    I’m self employed.I was shopping for a insurance plan for my family and I came to a problem that nobody seems to care about but it’s horrible. I was DENIED maternity from ALL MAJOR INS.Companies because my first baby was born with c-section. I did not choose c-section, the baby was breach and in position in which I could not deliver. I really called all companies and all of them treated me as a scum…..c-section is like an evil word to them. Big NO from all of them or premiums like $400 per month on top of my regular family plan, but can’t become pregnant sooner than in 36 months etc. And one company offered $15000 deductible!!?? with 80/20 copay on top, THIS IS WHAT I CALL DISRCIMINATION!!!!! Paula


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