Wbasny Chapters

2015 – S.5686

Position Statement – 2015

S.5686
Health Insurance for Pregnant Women

Support

The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York WBASNY), supports S5686 (Seward).

In the commercial health insurance market there are limited circumstances when one can enroll in health coverage outside of the traditional open enrollment period. This policy contradicts the clear benefits of early access to prenatal care, and the positive impacts it has for maternal and child health. This bill would make it possible for uninsured pregnant women to gain coverage and more easily access the prenatal care necessary for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Studies show that infants born to mothers who had little or no prenatal care in the first trimester have a low birth weight rate that is three times higher than that of infants born to mothers who received the recommended prenatal care, and have a rate of infant mortality that is five times higher. These are statistics that must not be ignored – it is vital that pregnant women are able to access the prenatal care they need to keep themselves healthy and to give birth to a healthy child.

In addition to the health benefits of allowing pregnancy to exist as a qualifying event, it is likely that there would be a significant financial benefit. One study found that any level of prenatal care for adolescent mothers would save the U.S. up to $3,242 per person in care costs for low-weight newborns.

WBASNY would like to recommend a revision to the legislation, that we believe will further strengthen the intent. To certify pregnancy, one will have to seek medical attention incurring out-of-pocket expenses that could be financially challenging and thus further delay timely access to coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 10% of women in New York between the ages of 19-64 are uninsured. The benefits of this legislation are clearly significant, but impact only a small percentage of women – those who will be uninsured at the time of an unplanned pregnancy. WBASNY would recommend striking the requirement of certification by a health provider to remove a potential barrier to coverage that could mitigate the noted and important benefits this legislation would deliver.

This piece of legislation would add pregnancy to the list of qualifying events that allow people to enroll in commercial health insurance coverage outside of an open enrollment period, thus significantly broadening access to prenatal care, and resulting in healthier pregnancies and births for women across the state of New York, as well as financial savings. New York State has a history of working to advance maternal and child health, as shown in the State’s Prevention Agenda, and this legislation is perfectly in line with concerted efforts to improve the health of women and children in New York. Given this history, it would be extremely fitting for New York to become the first state in the country to work to fulfill this mission by adding pregnancy as a qualifying event. WBASNY strongly encourages the legislature to pass this bill and broaden access to prenatal care for women across our state.

WBASNY encourages the legislature to support this legislation.

WBASNY consists of over 3,800 members from eighteen chapters across New York State dedicated not only to promoting the advancement of the status of women in society and of women in the legal profession, but to the fair and equal administration of justice. Our members include individuals from all levels of state and federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, educators and government leaders.

In the commercial health insurance market there are limited circumstances when one can enroll in health coverage outside of the traditional open enrollment period. This policy contradicts the clear benefits of early access to prenatal care, and the positive impacts it has for maternal and child health. This bill would make it possible for uninsured pregnant women to gain coverage and more easily access the prenatal care necessary for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Studies show that infants born to mothers who had little or no prenatal care in the first trimester have a low birth weight rate that is three times higher than that of infants born to mothers who received the recommended prenatal care, and have a rate of infant mortality that is five times higher. These are statistics that must not be ignored – it is vital that pregnant women are able to access the prenatal care they need to keep themselves healthy and to give birth to a healthy child.

In addition to the health benefits of allowing pregnancy to exist as a qualifying event, it is likely that there would be a significant financial benefit. One study found that any level of prenatal care for adolescent mothers would save the U.S. up to $3,242 per person in care costs for low-weight newborns.

WBASNY would like to recommend a revision to the legislation, that we believe will further strengthen the intent. To certify pregnancy, one will have to seek medical attention incurring out-of-pocket expenses that could be financially challenging and thus further delay timely access to coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 10% of women in New York between the ages of 19-64 are uninsured. The benefits of this legislation are clearly significant, but impact only a small percentage of women – those who will be uninsured at the time of an unplanned pregnancy. WBASNY would recommend striking the requirement of certification by a health provider to remove a potential barrier to coverage that could mitigate the noted and important benefits this legislation would deliver.

This piece of legislation would add pregnancy to the list of qualifying events that allow people to enroll in commercial health insurance coverage outside of an open enrollment period, thus significantly broadening access to prenatal care, and resulting in healthier pregnancies and births for women across the state of New York, as well as financial savings. New York State has a history of working to advance maternal and child health, as shown in the State’s Prevention Agenda, and this legislation is perfectly in line with concerted efforts to improve the health of women and children in New York. Given this history, it would be extremely fitting for New York to become the first state in the country to work to fulfill this mission by adding pregnancy as a qualifying event. WBASNY strongly encourages the legislature to pass this bill and broaden access to prenatal care for women across our state.

WBASNY encourages the legislature to support this legislation.

WBASNY consists of over 3,800 members from eighteen chapters across New York State dedicated not only to promoting the advancement of the status of women in society and of women in the legal profession, but to the fair and equal administration of justice. Our members include individuals from all levels of state and federal benches, as well as prominent attorneys practicing in all areas of the law, educators and government leaders.