Bipartisan support for insurance access for women that become pregnant

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A big push Wednesday by Republicans and Democrats at the Capitol to allow uninsured women that become pregnant to be able to purchase health care coverage outside of the normal enrollment period. But Connecticut Health Care plans say it would skyrocket premiums for everyone else. This could apply to thousands of Connecticut residents that don’t qualify for Medicaid and don’t qualify for the Affordable Care Act because their income is above those limits.

Having a baby is what the health care industry refers to as a “Qualifying Life Event” that makes you eligible to enroll for insurance coverage outside of the yearly enrollment period. So if you don’t have insurance and have a baby, you can purchase coverage. But many say an uninsured woman that becomes pregnant should also be able to enroll.

“[The proposal] will allow the individual to access important health care insurance to make sure that she gets proper care, as well as proper prenatal care,” said Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford), the co-chair of the Legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee.

The Centers for Disease Control says that women that do not have prenatal care are three to four times more likely to encounter serious complications both for the mother and the child resulting in much higher treatment costs.

Wednesday, Democrats joined with Republicans in supporting this proposal today. And something you’d never see in Washington, they were also joined at their new conference by ‘Planned Parenthood.’

“Despite decreases in unintended pregnancy rates, almost half of pregnancies still in the U.S. are unplanned, making advance enrollment less likely for many women,” said Gretchen Raffa of Planned Parenthood.

But even though there appears to be broad support for this idea in both the State Senate and in the House, Connecticut Health Care plans are fighting aggressively because it would send costs up for everyone else.

“It will send costs skyrocketing because it makes…it doesn’t make the system…it’s a system where it’s optional until you get sick, or ‘we’re not going to pay premiums til we get sick,” said Keith Stover of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Plans.

And even though the industry agrees with the value of prenatal care, Stover is making this analogy, “It’s very similar to; ‘you can’t buy car insurance after you’ve had a car accident.”

This proposal received bi-partisan support in the Insurance & Real Estate Committee and is now headed to the full Assembly. A similar law was passed in New York state two years ago.

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