Mother’s Day Series: Mandating Maternity Care, Don’t Forget Where You Came From!

Prenatal care throughout pregnancy has been proven to have profound impacts on the lives and health of both mother and child. The fact that so many insurers do not provide maternity coverage, a basic necessity for women of child bearing age (not just for women planning to have babies, as 65% of US pregnancies are unplanned!), while covering basic benefits for men, can be considered discriminatory. A common argument, that because insurance is based on pooled risk, it would be unfair for men to have to pay for maternity care because it is a service they will never use, conveniently forgets the fact that by virtue of being born, all men have benefited from maternity care. Yet the forgetting continues: a sharp downward trend indicates that plans offering maternity services have decreased from 82% in 2004 to 19% last year and 12% this year.

In the last couple weeks, both the Senate Health Committee and the Assembly Health Committee have passed bills that would mandate insurers selling plans on the individual market to cover maternity care including prenatal care and other services. AB185 by Assemblymember Hernandez and SB 155 by Senator Evans are both moving forward to Appropriations committees. The bills would require maternity care in health plans sold on the individual market, something that will be required in health plans under the federal law in 2014.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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