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Sens. Urge Covered Calif. To Make Pregnancy a ‘Qualifying Life Event’

On Wednesday, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter urging Covered California officials to allow women to sign up for coverage outside of the open enrollment period if they become pregnant, KQED's "State of Health" reports.

Under the Affordable Care Act, women who become pregnant can only purchase a health plan outside of the enrollment period after they have given birth (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 3/11).

Details of Letter

In the letter, Boxer and Feinstein called on the insurance exchange to add pregnancy to the list of "qualifying life events" that permit individuals to buy coverage outside of an open enrollment period. Currently, the list includes qualifying events such as:

  • Getting married;
  • Losing employer-sponsored coverage; and
  • Giving birth (Florido, "KPCC News," KPCC, 3/11).

Boxer and Feinstein wrote, "Allowing women to purchase health insurance during pregnancy will increase access to care and has the potential to improve health, save lives and reduce future health costs."

The letter to Covered California follows a similar push by a group of Democratic U.S. senators to include pregnancy as a qualifying life event on the national level, according to "State of Health."

Implications

Christina Postolowski -- health policy manager at Young Invincibles, which supports the push to include pregnancy as a qualifying event -- said that California's decision could influence federal policy.

She said, "California doesn't have to wait for the federal government to act. They can ... make this change now" ("State of Health," KQED, 3/11).

However, Nicole Evans, a spokesperson for the California Association of Health Plans, said that such a policy change could drive up costs. She said, "The goal is for all Americans to have coverage, and if we start to provide exceptions for people to wait to get coverage until they have a need, you could be undermining the goals of the [ACA]" ("KPCC News," KPCC, 3/11).

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