Health insurance can be a huge stress factor for pregnant women, with co-pays at an all-time high and low cost health insurance being harder than ever to find. When I first found out I was pregnant, Nate was still going through school and I was the only one employed (at a job I was THIS close to quitting, but that's another story). I remember emerging from the office bathroom early on in my pregnancy – still trying to be all covert and nonchalant about my nausea – to find that one of my coworkers had returned from her leave. I asked her how the baby was and got caught up on the name/height/weight and other statistics before delving into the labor and delivery and all of those details that women inexplicably rehash time and time again.
“I showed up to give birth,” she said, “and the hospital told me that our company cut my insurance off! I delivered with no health insurance to speak of and got hit with a twenty thousand dollar bill.”
Talk about morning sickness. I'm pretty sure I turned green on the spot. My coworker did end up getting her bill worked out and COBRA covered most of it, but our company had legally cut her insurance benefits off the day she went on leave. How was this possible? A law in California allowed companies with fewer than 50 employees to suspend health insurance for women on maternity leave. And since our Human Resources department was pretty much nonexistent, nobody had bothered to tell my coworker that her insurance would also be nonexistent the moment she left the office to tend to her family.
Fortunately, a new California law went into effect earlier this month requiring all California companies with more than five employees to maintain health insurance for women who take pregnancy leave for a maximum of 12 weeks. That means that fewer new moms will be left trying to track down affordable pregnancy health insurance for individuals while dealing with having a new mouth to feed. If you're in another state, however, I'm pretty sure you're still out of luck.
I wish this law had been around to protect me back when I gave birth. Have you experienced issues with pregnancy and health insurance? Do you feel that your state does enough to protect the jobs and benefits of parents?
This post is written in consideration for Brentt Taylor. All opinions are my own.