Open enrollment for so-called Obamacare plans closed February 15 with exceptions for some, but not for pregnant women, prompting some city and state lawmakers to change that. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
Getting married, being released from prison, becoming a citizen. These are all circumstances that allow you to qualify for a special enrollment period for health insurance under Obamacare. Giving birth to a child would also grant you coverage, but not getting pregnant.
"We know health care cost go up dramatically during pregnancy and it's very important for the health of the mother and the future baby to ensure they get prenatal care," says State Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan.
Krueger has introduced a bill adding pregnancy to New York's list of qualifying events. The City Comptroller has chimed in, issuing a report urging passage of the Krueger bill.
"This study shows clearly that you will have a healthier child. Without prenatal care, the infant mortality rate is five times more than someone who has prenatal care. So that says it all right there," adds Stringer.
The women who would be affected by this make too much to qualify for Medicaid assistance but don't receive coverage through their employers.
Stringer says it's unlikely they would foot the bill for prenatal care out of pocket.
"Prenatal care comes with a price tag. Without insurance, it's estimated to cost $20,000 for the life of that baby," he says.
The insurance industry argues that if the bill passes, many women would not purchase coverage when they are healthy - waiting until they got pregnant. Lawmakers counter, saying the benefits to mom and baby long-term outweigh that risk.
"When women don't have health insurance, they're more likely to have problem pregnancies, increased health care costs both for themselves and the infant. If it's born early, if it's born underweight, with good prenatal care, you can avoid all of these health care problems that are much more expensive than allowing women to join health insurance when they're pregnant," says Krueger.
A spokesperson for Krueger says she will begin pushing the bill in the coming days now that the wrangling over a new state budget has ended.