- Both houses of the New York state legislature have passed a bill that would allow pregnant women to purchase health insurance via the state health insurance exchange. The legislation now needs to be finalized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
- The law would include pregnancy as a "qualifying life event" for which uninsured women would be allowed to enroll in health insurance outside of the official open enrollment periods.
- Currently, pregnancy is not considered a qualifying event under the ACA or any state laws, and women who become pregnant are unable to access insurance until the baby is born—leaving prenatal care out of reach.
New York is expected to become the first state to make pregnancy a qualifying life event, possibly to be followed by California, which is considering similar legislation.
Advocates argue that while prenatal care is expensive at about $20,000 in New York, so is the price of foregoing care.
"Lack of prenatal care place both women and their babies at an increased risk of complications and death," says a statement from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II. "Maternal mortality is three to four times higher among women who do not receive prenatal care."
The move could have a high impact in New York, which is tied with Hawaii for the nation's second-highest rate for unintended pregnancy: 61%.
"Pregnancies are quite often unplanned, making limited enrollment periods impractical for many women," NARAL Pro-Choice New York president Andrea Miller told the media.