Senate Republicans released their version of the Obamacare repeal bill last Thursday, and their proposal makes some pretty big cuts, especially where funding for expectant mothers is concerned. Already, plenty of people are concerned about how much prenatal appointments could cost under the BCRA, aka the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The costs that mothers would be expected to foot are drastically high, especially for a series of appointments that they really shouldn't be skipping out on.
Under current legislation, prenatal care is defined as an essential health benefit. As you can probably guess by the designation, this means that insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must give provide coverage for this and a list of other things, such as outpatient care, mental health care, ER trips, and prescription drugs. Under the BCRA, however, states would be able to "waive the current law’s requirements on certain benefits that all health insurers must currently provide." Basically, all prenatal care could be deemed "extra" and could done away with at each state's discretion.
Another problem that the BCRA brings up? Medicaid cuts. Even if prenatal care isn't considered non-essential by states, drastic cuts to Medicaid could reduce prenatal care offerings of low-income families, leaving the neediest of parties with fewer, if any, options.
It goes without saying that prenatal care is absolutely essential for the healthiest pregnancy possible. "Preconception and prenatal care can help prevent complications and inform women about important steps they can take to protect their infant and ensure a healthy pregnancy," the National Institute of Health explains. A series of tests and check-ins lowers risk factors and yields healthy babies, and isn't that the goal?
So seeing as prenatal care can't be skipped, how much would mothers have to pay for their vital appointments? Estimated totals of $2,200 to $4,500 are widely circulated, which include about 14 appointments and all of the necessary tests and ultrasounds required to keep moms (and babies) healthy. Keep in mind, this all happens before the birth even takes place, which, as you can imagine, is a much higher total.
Prenatal care is preventive care under the ACA, but under the BCRA it's seen as extraneous. A lack of prenatal care yields babies with health problems, so, despite an avoidance of prenatal appointment coverage costs, insurers will likely have to deal with the damage that they've done in the form of sick or even chronically sick babies. If insurers cease providing prenatal coverage, the implications would be truly ironic.