The administration is said to be considering a special enrollment period in Obamacare to coincide with tax filing deadlines, since
so many of the uninsured
aren't aware of the just-passed sign-up deadline or the existence of tax credit to help them afford insurance. Since the administration is considering a special enrollment period for that, here's another one they need to consider: pregnancy
The law allows people to enroll outside of regular open enrollment dates if they have a life-changing event—getting divorced, losing a job, moving out of the service area for a current plan, or adopting or having a baby. Having a baby qualifies you to enroll, but only after that baby is born. If you're pregnant and uninsured, you're out of luck until you pop that baby out. A number of advocacy groups have a problem with that, for good reason.
The advocacy groups, including the March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood and Young Invincibles, are asking the administration to allow women to sign up whenever they become pregnant—a change opposed by the insurance industry. They say they've sought the change unsuccessfully for several years. […]
Cynthia Pellegrini, senior vice president of March of Dimes, notes that about half of pregnancies are unintended. And women often can't predict when they will have a challenging pregnancy requiring more services.
The advocates have applauded the health law for including maternity coverage among the list of "essential benefits." But they say that allowing women to get covered as soon as they’re pregnant would give them and their unborn children greater protection. It would also allow those with high-risk pregnancies to change plans to get more comprehensive coverage that might include access to certain hospitals and doctors.
In a perfect world, every woman would be able to plan accordingly for a pregnancy. This isn't a perfect world. Even after Obamacare, which has helped in many ways. In this case, the problem has been the insurance industry, which says that allowing women to sign up when they get pregnant could encourage them to wait until that happens to buy insurance and that that would make it harder to predict who was going to buy coverage and set prices. One of the real problems for insurance companies is that pregnancy costs a lot and they have to pay out a lot. That's one of the reasons Obamacare included pregnancy coverage as one of the essential benefits insurance companies have to provide—previous to the law they regularly didn't provide that coverage and considered pregnancy a pre-existing condition that would prevent women from adding that coverage.
For all of the reasons that the law says insurers have to cover pregnancy, the rules should allow for pregnant women to sign up at any time. The healthcare costs of being pregnant can run from $10,000 and up, and that's with an uneventful pregnancy. Most families can't afford that out-of-pocket, and so many women will go without the care that will help them have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Without it, they're at higher risk for fairly common complications like pregnancy-related diabetes and high blood pressure becoming serious, life-threatening conditions. The advocacy groups make this case in a report [pdf] issued Wednesday. For the government's part, Health and Human Services Secretary Syvlia Burwell said Wednesday that they would consider arguments for making the change.