It’s clear the losers of the new Republican healthcare bill are the elderly and the healthy. But another group who could end up paying thousands more? Those who become pregnant, according to yesterday’s Congressional Budget Office analysis of the recently passed American Health Care Act.
The recently passed bill allows states to apply for waivers to redefine what are termed Essential Health Benefits in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Under the current law, EHBs include categories of care like mental health services, prescription drug coverage, and maternity and newborn care. The CBO projects that if states can redefine these categories, maternity care, mental health care, and substance abuse services are most likely on the chopping block.
So what happens if you’re one of the 50 million-plus people who live in a state that seeks out these waivers, and you become pregnant ? You can purchase a rider, estimated at an additional $1,000 per month. The average pregnancy and delivery could cost over $3,000 out-of-pocket even with private insurance; the riders would add a few thousand dollars to that total.
Narrowing benefits would hit women’s wallets in other ways as well. Preventive services, also part of EHBs, currently includes things like breast pumps and lactation counseling, certain pregnancy-related health screenings, and things like well woman visits. Coverage for all of those services without cost-sharing could disappear.
Another factor of the AHCA that could raise costs for women? It allows states to seek out waivers that would allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions more if they have a gap in their coverage. More women than men are impacted by this medical underwriting, as pregnancy, C-sections, or even the possibility of pregnancy can be considered pre-existing conditions. Prior to the ACA, the National Women’s Law Center reported in 2012 that “the practice of gender rating costs women approximately $1 billion a year.”
On top of these costs, the AHCA would severely impact funding for Planned Parenthood which provides reproductive health care for millions of women, and guts Medicaid, which finances half of the births in the U.S., not only by capping funding, but by eliminating EHBs in the program as well.