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Sens. Urge Calif. To Make Pregnancy a 'Qualifying Life Event' for Insurance Enrollment

Sens. Urge Calif. To Make Pregnancy a 'Qualifying Life Event' for Insurance Enrollment

March 12, 2015 — Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Wednesday sent a letter urging officials with California's insurance marketplace to allow women to sign up for coverage outside of the open enrollment period if they become pregnant, KQED's "State of Health" reports (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 3/11).

Background

The Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) permits individuals to purchase health insurance outside of the standard open enrollment period if they have certain "qualifying life events." Currently, the list of qualifying events includes occasions such as marriage, the loss of employer-sponsored coverage and childbirth (Florido, "KPCC News," KPCC, 3/11).

Last week, a group of U.S. senators in a letter urged federal health officials to include pregnancy as a qualifying life event on the national level. Members of the House were expected to release a similar letter on Thursday ("State of Health," KQED, 3/11).

Some advocacy groups have also called for a special enrollment option for pregnant women (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/18).

Details of Letter

In their letter, Boxer and Feinstein called on the California insurance marketplace, called Covered California, to add pregnancy to the list of "qualifying life events" that permit individuals to buy coverage outside of an open enrollment period ("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."

Comments

Christina Postolowski, health policy manager at Young Invincibles, which supports the push to include pregnancy as a qualifying event, said California's decision could influence federal policy. "California doesn't have to wait for the federal government to act. They can ... make this change now," she said ("State of Health," KQED, 3/11).

However, Nicole Kasabian Evans, a spokesperson for the California Association of Health Plans, said 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).