Costs for maternity coverage could soar under the current GOPSenate health care replacement bill, the Better Care ReconciliationAct, according to a study by the March of Dimes and Avalere.

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Related: EHBs represent just a small part of health carepremiums

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The analysis illustrates the impact with a hypothetical: Kate,30, pregnant, self-employed and enrolled in an insurance plan onHealthCare.gov because her husband’s employer-provider insurancedoesn’t extend to family members. Kate pays an annual premium of$2,952 for her Affordable Care Act plan, and her share formaternity care is $4,100 out of the $7,540 total cost for the birthof her child. If there are complications at birth, the maximumamount Kate would pay would be $7,150.

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However, if maternity care is not included as an “essentialbenefit” (per the GOP plan), Kate would have to purchase anotherplan which does have maternity coverage. That could be anywherefrom 25 percent to 70 percent more expensive than the plan she hasnow, with an annual premium as high as $4,452. Kate would have topay completely out-of-pocket if there are any complications atbirth.

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Moreover, if Kate couldn’t get a plan with maternity coverage,her out-of-pocket cost would be $15,000 and would be much higher ifthere are complications. Meanwhile, the annual premium for such aplan would be $120 less than her ACA plan on the exchange -- about10 percent less each month.

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Related: Poll: Americans don't want to lose emergencyservices, other EHBs

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“Our study shows the cost of having a baby could escalatedrastically under the changes proposed in the Senate health carebill -- and that’s for having a healthy baby,” says Stacey D.Stewart, president of the March of Dimes. “If a woman has pregnancycomplications, or the baby is born sick or prematurely, health carecosts could skyrocket even further.”

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The changes proposed by the Senate could return the individualhealth insurance market to the pre-2010 status quo, when maternitycare was excluded from most plans or offered only as a costlyrider, according to the study. Prior to the Affordable CareAct’s requirement that all plans cover maternity and newborn care,only 13 percent of plans routinely did so.

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Related: Oregon mandates abortion coverage

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“We need to do more to prevent preterm birth because it’s theleading cause of death among babies in this country, and can leadto long-term health problems and lifelong disabilities,” Stewartsays. “But in fact, federal government data released in July showthat preterm births actually are on the rise. There was an alarming2 percent increase in the preterm birth rate between 2015 and 2016.Now is not the time to make it more expensive for a woman to getthe prenatal care she needs for her own and her baby’s health.”

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.