Twentysomethings Beware: Your Insurance May Not Cover Your Pregnancy

Under the Affordable Care Act, people up to age 26 can qualify for employer-sponsored coverage on their parents' plans -- but those plans don't tend to cover pregnancy

Even with the overall improvements to health care mandated by the Affordable Care Act -- also known as Obamacare -- the overhauled setup is far from perfect. Case in point: If you are 26 years old or younger, you are eligible for insurance coverage on your parent’s employer-sponsored plan. But if you get pregnant, you are likely to find yourself staring down some difficult decisions because those plans do not tend to cover the costs associated with pregnancy. In fact, a whopping 70 percent of them don’t cover prenatal care or birth for non-spouse dependents.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, it was only families dealing with teen pregnancies that had to confront such financial realities. But now it’s families with adult children in their prime reproductive age finding that those policies don’t cover maternity costs.

The Washington Post reports that close to 3 million women between the ages of 15 and 25 became pregnant in 2008, or 12 percent of the people in that age group. Whether they chose to carry the pregnancy to term, abort it, or if the pregnancy ended for natural causes, close to all of those girls and women required medical care in some form. The Post further reports that a pregnancy without any complications at all costs more than $10,000 up through delivery. Of course, women who don’t have adequate prenatal care are likelier to have more complicated pregnancies, which cost even more.

As Jezebel points out, this leaves families with choices that feel more like forgone conclusions than actual opportunities for rational decision-making based on a broad range of variables. In other words: not really choices at all.

Employer-sponsored insurance providers are legally prohibited from discriminating against women by refusing to provide maternity coverage, a critical rule mandated by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. If only the Affordable Care Act included the same language for all dependents, too.

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

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