Colorado House Bill 1021, which would have required all individual health insurance policies in Colorado to include maternity coverage, has been changed to require that every health insurance company offer at least one policy with maternity coverage, rather than requiring it on all policies. I had some concerns about this bill initially, both in terms of how it would increase costs, and whether women like myself who choose homebirths would be required to pay the additional premiums for maternity coverage while also paying out of pocket for our maternity care.
I like the compromise that the revised bill would create. It will definitely expand access to maternity care for women in Colorado. Right now, there are three health insurance companies here that offer maternity care: Assurant, United HealthOne, and Rocky Mountain Health Plans. The RMHP maternity option is very expensive. The United HealthOne option isn’t terribly pricey, but the benefits are low for the first couple years after the policy goes into effect. The Assurant policy is the most popular among our clients, but it requires that the client meet a separate maternity deductible before benefits begin.
For a woman in Colorado who does not have an option for group health insurance and is contemplating pregnancy, the choice is either to opt for paying for the pregnancy out of pocket (complications are covered on all policies), or to switch to one of those three health insurance companies that offers maternity benefits. Most of the big-name health insurance companies – Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Kaiser, etc. – wouldn’t be an option for her at all if she wants to have maternity benefits. Right now, if a woman has her heart set on using a particular health insurance company and also on having maternity coverage, she’s likely going to have to pick one or the other. If HB 1021 requires each insurance company to offer at least one policy with maternity benefits, the number of options available to women seeking maternity coverage would increase dramatically. I have to assume that the increased competition would help to lower costs for this coverage. It also makes sense that if women had more options for coverage, more women would likely elect to add maternity to their policies, thus increasing the pool of insureds with maternity coverage, further driving down costs.
It would be nice to see more options available for our clients who are looking for maternity coverage. My preference would be if clients could select their health insurance policy based on all of the other features of the plan, and then add maternity benefits after they had settled on a policy, rather than choosing a policy by default simply because it is one of a very few options that offer maternity benefits.