While everyone else is wondering whether the Supreme Court will replace Obamacare in 37 states with the actual Affordable Care Act as written, some Democratic U.S. Senators are urging women to dive deeper into Obamacare’s perverse incentives by encouraging them to delay getting health insurance until after they become pregnant.
As reported by Lydia Wheeler in The Hill, Senator Patty Murray has round up 36 signatures on a letter addressed to U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell urging her to pull yet another “special enrollment period” out of her bag of tricks.
In a statement, Christina Postolowski, health policy manager of Young Invincibles, said she’s thrilled to see a growing chorus of leaders calling on the administration to create a special open enrollment period to make maternity coverage available to pregnant women year-round.
According to Postolowski’s December 2014 report “Without Maternity Coverage” maternity care and delivery ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 without complications.
Secretary Burwell has recently conjured up a special enrolment period, in April, for those who are shocked to learn from the IRS that they have to pay a fine (or tax or penalty) for not having Obamacare-qualifying coverage in 2014.
The proposed pregnancy waiver seems discriminatory. Why are women who plan on getting pregnant the only ones to be offered the opportunity to avoid Obamacare until they decide to shift the costs of their pregnancies to insurers and taxpayers? What about people who engage in dangerous sports? Should I not have the ability to delay enrollment until I go on my next SCUBA-diving vacation?
This is an example of adverse selection. It is similar to allowing a driver to purchase automobile insurance after he has started competing in the Dakar long-distance race across the deserts of North Africa. The proposed pregnancy waiver would cause premiums in Obamacare exchanges to increase even higher that they already have.
(In employer-based coverage, there are also special enrollment periods for events like divorce or a spouse losing her job with benefits to which you subscribe. However, these are bad events that people usually want to avoid, so adverse selection is not a consideration.)