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You can’t get denied health insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including a pregnancy. Even if you’re pregnant when you join a new health plan, it must cover you and your child. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended the practice of health insurance companies denying coverage on something considered a pre-existing condition. Health insurance companies also can’t charge higher rates because of health conditions, so pregnant women don’t pay more for health coverage.

Plus, health insurance must cover maternity care, newborn care and prenatal care as essential health benefits. So, you don’t have to worry that health care, including labor and delivery, won’t be in your coverage options.

That’s the good news. However, employers don’t have to give you health coverage if you don’t qualify yet. For instance, a new job may not begin to provide any health coverage for months.

If you’re not yet eligible to sign up for health insurance from your employer, you may want to find coverage elsewhere to bridge the gap. One option is an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan.

You can get a health insurance company plan from the health insurance marketplace. The website will request information, including household income, and provide your options, including cost estimates. The ACA marketplace provides subsidies based on income, so you may be able to find an affordable, comprehensive plan on the marketplace. 

Another option for maternity coverage is your state Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). States offer these free or low cost plans based on income. If you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, these plans can offer you a way to get comprehensive health coverage without spending much on them. However, these plans can have small provider networks, so you’ll want to check which providers accept those health plans in your area. 

There’s yet another avenue to enroll in a health plan for pregnant women. Pregnancy is considered a qualifying life event that lets people make changes to their health insurance coverage. So, if your spouse has a health insurance plan, you can get coverage through that plan if you’re eligible during a special enrollment period. Otherwise, you would have to wait until the annual open enrollment period to get added to a spouse’s health insurance plan.

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Les Masterson


Les, a former managing editor, insurance, at QuinStreet, has more than 20 years of experience in journalism. In his career, he has covered everything from health insurance to presidential politics.