In yet another blow to women’s health care, a new analysis projected by the Congressional Budget Office claims that pregnancy could cost an extra $1,000 under Trumpcare, aka the American Health Care Act. That’s partly because — thanks to the MacArthur Amendment — states may be able to apply for a waiver to opt out of many of the regulations Obamacare placed on insurers, such as a ban on charging higher rates to those with pre-existing conditions. And that could include pregnancy.
According to the CBO, a new factor that could contribute to this higher health care cost is another waiver that would allow states to redefine what they consider to be essential health benefits, which are a set of benefits that insurance providers must cover under their plans. Under Obamacare — or the Affordable Care Act — the law states EHBs must include care for mental health services, prescription drug coverage, preventive and wellness services, as well as maternity and newborn care.
Now that those protections are in jeopardy under the AHCA, the CBO projects that expectant mothers could be paying thousands more to seek and obtain health care. So what do you do? As Time reported, you can purchase a “rider,” which is an amendment to an insurance policy to cover additional benefits at an extra cost. In the case of a pregnancy add-on, the CBO foresees it costing women more than $1,000 extra per month, in addition to the premiums they pay for their health care plans already.
“Alternatively, insurers could offer a lower-cost rider providing less-than-comprehensive coverage—with, for example, a $2,000 limit,” according to the CBO analysis. “Either type of rider would result in substantially higher out-of-pocket health care costs for pregnant women who purchased insurance in the nongroup market.”
According to a 2013 report from Slate, women with insurance pay out of pocket an average of $3,400 for maternity care. If these riders are necessary, then that average could substantially rise.
Should President Donald Trump's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare eventually pass in the Senate in its current form, it will undoubtedly impact far more women than men. "It is a disaster for women, especially those who have been pregnant or want to be pregnant," Dr. Leah Kaufman, legislative chair for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, wrote in early May of the proposed AHCA.
While health care for millions of women is at risk and many of these fears will depend on the state in which you live, it's important to note that affordable and accessible maternity care doesn't only affect expectant mothers. It impacts their families, their husbands and partners, and their future children who will one day be members of society. Hopefully this type of foresight will reach the Senate before anything is finalized.