The March of Dimes today released a new study highlighting both the financial and potential health implications that the Senate health care plan could have on moms and babies, especially those born too sick or too soon.
The analysis confirms that removing maternity coverage from plans could cause the cost of having a baby to skyrocket from $4,100 to $15,000 and also subject a new mother to unlimited out-of-pocket expenses if there are complications during birth; meanwhile, a maximum of only $10 a month in premiums would be realized. Women who do want to buy maternity coverage could see premiums increase by 25 percent to 70 percent if maternity care is no longer considered an essential health benefit. Avalere Health, a healthcare consulting firm, supported the analysis.
“The March of Dimes believes all pregnant women need affordable health care to have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies,” says Stacey D. Stewart, president of the March of Dimes. “Our study shows that the cost of having a baby could escalate drastically under the changes proposed in the Senate health care bill — and that’s for having a healthy baby. If a woman has pregnancy complications, or the baby is born sick or prematurely, health care costs could skyrocket even further.”
The changes proposed by the Senate could return the individual health insurance market to the pre-2010 status quo, when maternity care was excluded from most plans or offered only as a costly rider. Prior to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all plans cover maternity and newborn care, only 13 percent of plans did so routinely.
“We need to do more to prevent preterm birth because it’s the leading cause of death among babies in this country, and can lead to long-term health problems and lifelong disabilities,” Ms. Stewart says. “But in fact, federal government data released in July show that preterm births actually are on the rise. There was an alarming 2 percent increase in the preterm birth rate between 2015 and 2016. Now is not the time to make it more expensive for a woman to get the prenatal care she needs for her own and her baby’s health.”
“These policy issues being considered by Congress are a matter of life and death for millions of American families. The March of Dimes calls upon all U.S. Senators to reject the Better Care Reconciliation Act and go back to the drawing board to produce legislation that will support the needs of mothers, babies and families,” Ms. Stewart says.