"I'm pregnant. Can I get maternity coverage?"
Women call private health insurance companies with this question on a daily basis.
They are horrified when they are told the answer is "No."
Insurance is a protection device, they learn, meant to help with cost of something that might happen in the future, not an event that has already occurred. You can not, after all, get coverage on your house if it is already on fire.
Many of the women calling already had private individual health insurance and assumed they were protected. This is common for those who had previously been under group health insurance policies where maternity was a standard benefit so they didn't even think to ask if they'd be covered when they got their new plan.
Some bought a policy that only had maternity coverage as an option for a significantly higher rate that they could not afford. Others were never properly advised that maternity was not even available on the plan they chose.
There can be no doubt that countless abortions occur yearly because young women find out too late that they don't have and cannot buy maternity coverage after already being pregnant.
Insurance companies sell policies that don't cover maternity because laws of most states allow this type of policy to be sold. Lawmaker are never openly asked: "Why does public policy encourage abortion in this way?"
Family values voters should fully support universal maternity coverage for all Americans.
Free market conservatives will argue that having the government require maternity coverage on health insurance would be an unnecessary intrusion into the private market and add to the costs of health coverage.
Yes, maternity care is more expensive than abortion, but public policy should not dissuade a woman from carrying their child to term.
The extra costs should be shared. After all, why should a man pay less for his coverage than the woman he impregnates?
If you agree, email your congressional representative through the link below, to ask them to include universal maternity coverage in health care reform.