Health

Feinstein and Boxer join push to let pregnant women buy health coverage anytime

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer want Covered California to let pregnant women buy health insurance anytime, not just during open enrollment periods.
Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer want Covered California to let pregnant women buy health insurance anytime, not just during open enrollment periods.
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U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have asked Covered California to let pregnant women buy health insurance anytime, not just during an open enrollment period.

Under the Affordable Care Act there are only a few reasons -- called qualifying life events -- why people are allowed to buy coverage outside of open enrollment. They include getting married, losing job-based coverage, or giving birth. Becoming pregnant is not one of those reasons.

In their letter to Covered California on Wednesday, Feinstein and Boxer asked Covered California to add pregnancy to the list.

"Especially since having a child is a qualifying life event, it makes sense to ensure that access to care is granted prior to birth," the senators wrote.

A Covered California spokesman said  the agency is evaluating the senators' request.

Nicole Evans, a spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Plans, said granting the request could drive insurance costs up for everyone else.

"The goal is for all Americans to have coverage and if we start to provide exceptions for people to wait to get coverage until they have a need, you could be undermining the goals of the Affordable Care Act," Evans said.

That argument echoes one made by health plans nationally, as advocates have increased pressure on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make a similar allowance for pregnant women to buy coverage through the federal marketplace.

Though no decisions have been made, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell has said her agency is open to considering the issue.