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N.Y. Gov. Signs Law Making Pregnancy a Qualifying Life Event for Health Insurance Enrollment

January 4, 2015 — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) earlier this month signed into law legislation (A 7836-A, S 5548-A) that would classify pregnancy as a qualifying life event to purchase health coverage on or off of New York's insurance marketplace outside of the open enrollment period, PBS Newshour's "The Rundown" reports (Pasquantonio, "The Rundown," PBS Newshour, 12/23/15).

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 marriage, the loss of employer-sponsored coverage and childbirth.

Family Planning Advocates of New York State said the measure could make New York the first state to cover pregnancy as a qualifying life event. According to FPANYS, the measure would make coverage retroactive through the beginning of the month when the pregnancy is first detected (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/19/15).

Latest Developments

According to "The Rundown," the legislation was passed by the state Assembly and Senate in near-unanimous votes ("The Rundown," PBS Newshour, 12/23/15).The law goes into effect in 2016 (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/19/15).

Meanwhile, a report issued last year by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that including pregnancy as a qualifying event would lead to health benefits for pregnant women and newborns and possibly result in long-term savings for New York's health care system. According to the report, infants born to U.S. women who do not receive prenatal care are three times more likely to be born at low birth weight than those born to women who receive such care.

According to "The Rundown," the March of Dimes and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists support the law ("The Rundown," PBS Newshour, 12/23/15).