Expectant mothers in New York will soon be able to have a healthier pregnancy thanks to the signing of a new law granting them access to state health insurance benefits.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that as of Jan. 1, New York will become the first state to allow pregnant women to enroll in the state health insurance exchange, New York State of Health, at any time during their pregnancy.
Under the bill, pregnancy will now be considered a “qualifying life event,” and insurance coverage would be effective as of the first month that the woman is certified to be pregnant.
“This legislation will help expectant mothers get access to essential prenatal care and help build a stronger and healthier New York,” Cuomo said.
"Qualifying life events" include such things as a change of residence, birth or adoption of a child, marriage, divorce or death of a spouse, but all these things still offer enrollment in the exchange only from October through December. Pregnant women, though, will be able to enroll throughout the year.
“Today, the state of New York took a step as a national leader to recognize the importance of ensuring health coverage during pregnancy,” said Kelli Owens, vice president of external affairs for Family Planning Advocates of NY. “This new law will ensure that vital prenatal care and other health needs can be met during pregnancy, which will lead to better maternal and infant health, which is smart public policy.”
Earlier this year, City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a report showing the benefits of expanding prenatal coverage, resulting in healthier babies and mothers.
Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would not be adding pregnancy as a qualifying event at the federal level, Stringer pushed for New York to be the first to offer the benefits.
“New York took another major step forward for public health today by becoming the first state in the nation to ensure that every woman will have access to quality, affordable prenatal care whenever she needs it,” Stringer said.