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Ask the Health Insurance Expert

My husband and I are trying to start a family. I just switched jobs and will no longer have health coverage. I plan to switch to my husband's insurance in about 30 days. At that time I may be pregnant. Is there anything I should be concerned about or any reason my husband's insurance provider will not take me?

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) says group health insurance plans that cover maternity care cannot exclude pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. However, not all group health insurance plans cover maternity care.

Many states mandate group plans to provide maternity coverage, but if you happen to live in a state that doesn't have such a mandate, it's possible your husband's plan includes little or no coverage for prenatal care and delivery. Check the plan to make sure it would provide the coverage you need.

If it doesn't, then consider signing up for COBRA to extend your health insurance coverage under your former employer's plan. You will not be able to buy individual health insurance to cover maternity care if you are already pregnant. Your former employer's health plan administrator should send you information about COBRA within 15 days after being informed of your departure. Once you receive notification about COBRA, you have 60 days to sign up.

Assuming your husband's plan provides maternity coverage, have him request enrollment for you as soon as possible. Normally employees and dependents sign up for health insurance during the annual open enrollment period. Under HIPAA, those who had declined the company's plan during that period can sign up later in the year if they lose coverage through another source. But the employee must request enrollment within 30 days of the coverage loss.

For more, see pregnancy complicates health insurance options and HIPAA: Your rights to health insurance portability.



Last updated: May. 13, 2011