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New legislation expands health insurance access to pregnant New Yorkers

Dec 31, 2015 6:00 am

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Nia Hamm is reporting for Public News Service beginning Friday, pregnant New Yorkers can enroll in the state's health-insurance exchange at any time during their pregnancy. Enrollment is usually only available during the period of October through December. But new legislation, co-sponsored by Assembly member Aravella Simotas, D-Queens, makes NewYork the first state in the nation where pregnancy is a "qualifying life event" that allows pregnant women to obtain health insurance and prenatal care at any time through the exchange; something Simotas says is crucial for a baby's development. "It was mind-boggling to me that New York State and states throughout the nation would allow a woman giving birth to get insurance, but they wouldn't cover her while she was pregnant," says Simotas. "Why should a child be born into this world prematurely if it can be avoided?" Simotas says the insurance industry was resistant to the legislation because of fears that expanding the list of health conditions that allow people to enroll outside of the designated period could cut into profits. Simotas says that's simply not true. "The research is clear that a child that is born healthy costs insurance companies a lot less than a child that's born prematurely," she says. "It makes more economic sense to provide a mother, who may have issues during her pregnancy, with prenatal care." Under the law, insurance coverage for a pregnant woman would be effective beginning the first day of the month in which the woman is certified as pregnant.