Daughters Not Offered Maternity Coverage under Parents’ Health Insurance

maternity coverage discriminationAs all-inclusive health insurance gets closer to becoming a reality under the Affordable Care Act, some women are still struggling to acquire the coverage they need, according to recent reports. In particular, young women who are covered under a parent’s health policy are not necessarily entitled to maternity coverage, something that the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) is fighting to change.

Young Women Denied Maternity Insurance Coverage under Parents’ Policies

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, brought with it a number of provisions meant to benefit young people and individuals with pre-existing conditions.

One provision allowed children to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until the age of 26, while the other, which will take effect in 2014, does not allow health insurers to deny coverage to anyone with pre-existing conditions.

These two provisions create an opportunity for daughters on their parents’ policies to receive maternity coverage.

But, according to the National Women’s Law Center, many young women are still not gaining access to this important coverage, which is why the group is trying to help them acquire benefits under a loophole in already-existing health care law provisions.

Consumer Advocate Files Health Insurance Discrimination Complaints

The NWLC has filed sex discrimination complaints against five large publicly funded employers under Section 1557 in the Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination “in any health program or activity” that receives any sort of federal funding or “financial assistance.”

The group explained that, thanks to the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, women began receiving maternity coverage under their spouse’s employer-sponsored policies. Unfortunately, dependent daughters, who now can remain on their parents’ policies until the age of 26, don’t have the same guarantee of maternity insurance coverage.

The NWLC hopes that by filing complaints against companies receiving federal funding, it can help some young women receive benefits. Sharon Levin, director of federal women’s reproductive health policy for the NWLC, explained to National Public Radio (NPR) that the group has been working on a remedy for some time.

“We were always aware that [Section] 1557 would apply to this situation, but we wanted to make sure that we had all our ducks in a row to file the complaints before we started talking about it,” she explained.

The women’s group hopes that by using the nondiscrimination language in the health law, at least for companies that receive federal funding, will be forced to provide more young women with much-needed maternity insurance coverage.

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