Take Your Tiny Hands Off Maternity Coverage!

ultrasound exam

The vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and strip away health coverage from millions of individuals has been delayed as the wrangling about how much health care to take away continues.  And we’re here to let lawmakers know women’s health and economic security—and that of their families—are not on the negotiating table!
So, here’s why taking away maternity coverage and other Essential Health Benefits is a deal-breaker.

  1. Everyone Needs EHB:  Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance plans did not meet the needs of consumers, whether it was refusing to cover prescription drugs or mental health care, or maternity or newborn care. The EHB was designed to fill coverage gaps, and make sure consumers’ needs were met.  EHB requires individual and small group plans to cover 10 essential health benefits: emergency services; hospitalizations; outpatient care; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitation services; laboratory services; preventive services and chronic disease management; and pediatric care. There is something for everyone in the EHB package – something that helps you get and stay healthy and avoid going into medical debt or bankruptcy when you need health care.
  2. Women in Particular Need EHB: The EHB package is good for women. For example, the required coverage of mental health services makes a big difference for the 1 in 8 women who will be diagnosed with depression in their lifetime. And the prescription drug requirement helps women, who at any age are more likely than men to take prescription medications on a regular basis.
  3. Maternity Coverage in Particular has Made a Big Difference for Women and Families. Before the ACA, only 12 percent of the most popular plans on the individual market offered maternity coverage.  This lack of coverage left women facing high costs for maternity services, like hospital bills ranging from $32,093 for vaginal births (without complications) and up to $52,125 for caesarians or more complicated births. That’s a high price to pay – women who cannot pay those high out-of-pocket costs would probably forego prenatal care and likely experience compromised health outcomes—the costs of which society at-large will have to absorb.
  4. Losing EHB Could Unravel Other Important Protections. Eliminating EHB could open the door for insurers to undermine the protections against denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and elimination of annual or lifetime limits upon which the ACA’s guarantee of coverage is predicated.  Elimination of EHB would mean that insurers would provide skimpy coverage to attract healthy enrollees and increase out-of-pocket costs, leaving high-cost enrollees, particularly those with pre-existing conditions, saddled with unsurmountable costs—that would push many into bankruptcy.  Let’s not forget that pre-ACA, simply being a women was considered a pre-existing condition.

So the benefits of EHB are real – it has helped individuals, especially women, stay healthy and economically secure.  And the likely consequences of EHB elimination are not just theoretical—they are real too—and they will impact real women who were routinely denied coverage; charged astronomical costs; and pushed into bankruptcy due to medical debt pre-ACA.
We will not let women’s health be a negotiating tool in a political game to make good on campaign promises to strip health coverage away from millions of individuals.  It’s time to stop playing politics with women’s health and protect the coverage and care that women need! Take your tiny hands off maternity coverage!