Q. I'm scheduled to deliver my baby in January, 2014, soon after the new health reform law goes into full effect. Anything I should know about?
A. You couldn't have timed it better. For one thing, the Affordable Care Act requires all new individual health plans to cover maternity and newborn care starting Jan. 1, 2014. That's a huge step forward for women in most states, where right now it can be next to impossible (or in some cases completely impossible) to purchase an individual plan that covers maternity care. (Which, by the way, could run you up to $10,000 for an uncomplicated pregnancy and vaginal delivery, and more if you have any complications or need a Cesarean section.)
If your existing plan doesn't currently cover pregnancy, it won't have to add maternity coverage until it comes up for renewal. So if that occurs any time after your due date you'll be out of luck. But you can easily fix that by purchasing a new policy on your state's new Marketplace during this fall's open enrollment period, which begins Oct. 1.The new plan will automatically include maternity and newborn coverage, and it will kick in on Jan. 1, 2014, which is the date you can cancel your prior coverage. Don't forget to add your newborn to your plan promptly.
Another advantage of switching to a new Marketplace plan is that, depending on your household income, you may be eligible for a new kind of tax credit that you can use right away to help with your insurance premium. Here's more information about how these Marketplaces will work.
See our coverage of Babies & Kids
as well as our guide to health insurance
Once the baby has arrived, your new plan will also cover a bunch of related services at no cost to you beyond your basic premium, again courtesy of Obamacare. These include well-woman visits, screening and counseling for various sexually transmitted diseases, the contraception of your choice, breastfeeding counseling and support, including nursing bras and the rental of a breast pump if you need one.
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