June 23, 2015

Watson Coleman Introduces Bill Improving Access to Health Insurance for Pregnant Women

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC (June 23, 2015) ― Today, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) announced the Healthy Maternity and Obstetric Medicine (Healthy MOM) Act, legislation that would create a special, 60-day enrollment window for pregnant women to enroll in or upgrade a health insurance plan provided through Healthcare.gov, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) or her employer.

The bill, which has 78 original cosponsors, has received endorsements from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Young Invincibles, the March of Dimes, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation.

“Right now, events like the birth or adoption of a child, marriage, divorce, or even moving to a new state all trigger a special window allowing individuals to enroll in a new health insurance plan. Yet pregnancy, one of the most life altering events a woman may experience, isn’t included on that list,” said Watson Coleman. “Ensuring every American has access to affordable, quality healthcare should be a national priority. Unless we support expecting mothers, we’re not meeting our responsibilities for mothers or for the babies they will deliver.”

According to a recent report from Young Invincibles, basic prenatal care and delivery average nearly $20,000 without insurance, even when there are no complications. The same report notes that women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related difficulties when they receive no prenatal care. These women are also more likely to have an infant die in the first month after birth.

"Access to maternity coverage is critical to Millennials, who account for 83 percent of new moms, and can be least able to afford maternity care. And yet, there are still some health plans that do not cover full maternity care benefits, said Christina Postolowski, Program Manager for Young Invincibles. “The Healthy MOM Act will allow pregnant women to sign up for a health plan year-round that meets their needs. This can lead to better health outcomes for moms and newborns, saving hospitals and consumers money in the long run."

"Planned Parenthood commends Congresswoman Watson Coleman for her leadership and efforts to make sure pregnant women can enroll in health insurance year-round," said Roslyn Rogers Collins, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metro New Jersey

“Women need to have health insurance when they are pregnant,” stated March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “It’s very difficult for women to obtain the prenatal care and other services necessary for a healthy pregnancy and baby without insurance.  The March of Dimes is grateful to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman and her colleagues for championing this important measure for maternal and child health.” 

For a fact sheet on the bill, click here.