Pregnancy, especially high-risk pregnancy, is an incredibly stressful time for soon to be mothers. The last thing pregnant women need is to be stressing over not being able to afford the high cost of their care. Under the Senate's newly revised healthcare legislation, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, women's health gets the short end of the stick. Mothers wondering how much a high-risk pregnancy could cost under the BCRA might not be surprised to find out that it is going to be very expensive — because this is Republican health care reform we're talking about.
A high-risk pregnancy is defined by the mother or the baby having an increased chance for health problems during the pregnancy. High-risk factors can be anything from age to pre-existing health issues to the baby having health issues in the womb — some of which are beyond a mother's control and not something she should be punished for. Many of the pre-existing conditions defined by the BCRA contribute to high-risk pregnancy, allowing for insurance companies to charge women with a high-risk pregnancy more for their insurance.
A normal, healthy pregnancy under the BCRA could cost mothers thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs, depending on the policy. But a high-risk pregnancy involves more visits to the doctor, increased ultrasound tests, and potentially more medication than that of a healthy pregnancy.
Currently, women are guaranteed to have some of their maternity and childbirth services covered by insurance under the Affordable Care Act's essential health benefits. But under the BCRA, states will be able to apply for waivers for essential health benefits, which includes waiving maternity care. Individuals needing maternity care would have to pay for riders to expand coverage provided by their policy at an extra cost if their provider were to drop maternity care from their policy. According to the Center for American Progress, coverage riders for maternity care could cost individuals thousands of dollars more for excluded benefits — and by 2026, it could cost a woman an additional $17,320 in premiums just to receive a maternity care rider.
With the BCRA ending Medicaid expansion, which covers half of all pregnancies, states will now be able to provide less substantial care to women. Following a high risk pregnancy, the BCRA requires new mothers to return to work after 60 days, according to TIME, or risk losing their Medicaid coverage, even if they are still in recovery. And with the BCRA cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year, costs could easily rack up for expecting mothers with a high-risk pregnancy — especially for low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for prenatal care and family planning services.
Once the baby is born, lifetime limits on essential care could drive up the costs of healthcare for not only the mother, but the child, too. Depending on the risk, a newborn baby could have to spend weeks receiving treatment and care, which in turn, costs money. Under the BCRA, the reinstatement of lifetime caps targets children born from high-risk pregnancies, who could blow through their insurance coverage within the first years of their life.
For a normal pregnancy under the Affordable Care Act, according to ABC News, a hospital bill for childbirth care ranges on average from $30,000 to $50,000. The exact numerical cost for a high-risk pregnancy under the BCRA isn't exactly clear — but with more medical attention needed for both mother and baby during a high-risk pregnancy, it's likely that women will be paying more than $50,000.
Everything is subject to change, depending on your insurance policy and the state you live in. But the unfortunate thing is, the BCRA does not make it any easier for women with a high-risk pregnancy to receive affordable and fair medical treatment.