All health insurance regulated by California would have to cover maternity care if Governor Jerry Brown signs two bills into law.
Millions of Californians are in health plans that are already required to cover maternity. But people in plans and policies regulated by the Department of Insurance may have trouble getting the services. The percentage of enrollees with maternity coverage on that regulators individual market has dwindled down dramatically in recent years–to just 12%.
Democratic State Senator Noreen Evans authored one of the bills to close the maternity coverage gap. She says not only would a new law increase access, it might save the state money. “When women are uninsured are not able to access coverage health care when they’re pregnant,” she says, “they turn to the state, they turn to emergency rooms and other forms of state-subsidized health care.”
Richard Wiebe is spokesperson for the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies. He says insurers have different views on the maternity mandate, but the industry did not come out against the bill. According to Wiebe, “maternity benefits are going to be part of federal health care reform. So there’s really not much point in opposing it, even though some of them believe it should not be included.”
Governor Brown has until October 9th to act on the bill.