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Individual Health Insurance and Maternity:

How Will the Healthcare Bill Impact Women's Health Coverage?

November 2010

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Finding individual health insurance that offers everything you need at a price you can afford is notoriously difficult, but according to the Washington Post if you're a woman it's probably even worse.

This is because most individual health coverage policies don't offer maternity coverage, and those that do are strictly regulated by rules that could make it difficult for a pregnant woman to access her coverage.

Pregnancy is expensive in the United States, and insurance companies fear that many women won't pay for maternity coverage until they're actually pregnant. This costs the insurance companies a lot of money, which is why a pregnancy is considered a "pre-existing condition."

For this reason most pregnant women who try to purchase an individual health insurance plan will find themselves denied health coverage. And most of the plans that do include maternity won't allow their benefits to kick-in until a specific period of time has passed, in some cases up to a year.

This is why it's very important for women to be aware of what is and isn't covered by their health coverage, particularly if they have an individual health insurance plan. With costs ranging between $15,000 and $20,000 for a healthy, uncomplicated birth, delivering a baby without medical coverage can be incredibly expensive.

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Individual health insurance

Did you know...
Maternity health coverage doesn't come standard for most individual health plans.

So how will the healthcare bill play a part in women's coverage in the future? It all depends on how the law will be implemented on a state-by-state basis, something that's up in the air now that Republicans have the majority in the House.

But according to the Post, the state regulated health coverage exchanges mandated by the healthcare bill would make it illegal to keep maternity coverage out of insurance, and would make that coverage more affordable at the same time. This is because the mandate that requires medical coverage would alleviate some of the costs absorbed by insurance companies, making it easier for them to offer maternity coverage in the first place.

But, 2014 is a long way off. And at this point it's unclear whether or not the bill will survive in its entirety for that long anyway. So, for women who purchase their coverage on the individual insurance market it pays to know whether or not maternity is covered, when that coverage kicks-in, and how much it covers overall.

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