It can be extremely difficult to obtain; to find out your options, you really need to speak with an experienced health insurance broker. It's not totally impossible to obtain, but there are some qualifications and restrictions that aren't understood by many insurance applicants.
Why is maternity leave difficult to obtain? If you happen to be the beneficiary of group health insurance that has maternity leave as one of the benefits, then you are in fairly good shape. However, if you are searching for individual insurance, you're well aware that maternity leave often isn't covered under common insurance plans. Again it is not totally impossible to get, you just need to be aware of the parameters of your coverage. Coverage for maternity leave is difficult to obtain, as many insurance companies would prefer to decline offering this kind of benefit on an individual basis as opposed to a group medical insurance situation.
Employers are required to treat pregnant women the same as other workers who can't perform their usual work for a period of time. For example, if the boss allows a worker medical leave for a broken arm or pneumonia, pregnant women must get leave under the same terms and conditions. Leave of this nature is protected under the auspices of a federal act, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Note that the federal act does two things. First, it requires certain employers to provide parenting, family and medical leave for qualified employees. Second, it sets the cap for unpaid medical leave at a maximum of twelve weeks for qualified employees. The key is being qualified. A person must be working at a company with 50 or more workers, and must have worked there for at least one year and at least 1,250 hours during the year before taking leave.
This kind of leave does apply equally to men or women and covers situations like birth or adoption, acquiring foster children, taking care of a seriously ill family member or dealing with a serious health situation. Those using FMLA leave provisions are not entitled to the same benefits while on leave; however, benefits acquired prior to the leave stay with the employee.
To find out how an individual may apply for maternity leave benefits, as well as the qualifications and requirements, contact your local insurance broker for information.