HB 127 — Health Insurance - Health Benefit Plans - Special Enrollment Period for Pregnancy

Committee: House Health & Government Operations Committee

Position: SUPPORT

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

House Bill 127 requires small employer and individual health benefit plans to provide a special enrollment period during which a woman who becomes pregnant may enroll in a health benefit plan and establishes the effective dates of coverage. A pregnant woman must be allowed to enroll at any time after commencement of the pregnancy, and the special enrollment period must remain open for the duration of the pregnancy. In the interest of supporting access to healthcare for women and their families, the Conference supports House Bill 127.

Access to quality obstetric services are essential to maternal and fetal health during and after pregnancy. Health care for these populations provides a foundation for healthy families by ensuring that women have safe pregnancies and deliveries, and giving their children the best possible health outcomes after birth. Requiring health plans and carriers to provide a special enrollment period for women who become pregnant will help to ensure that pregnant women and their children receive quality obstetric and pediatric care.

Having healthcare from the moment a woman confirms her pregnancy is extremely important in reducing both maternal and fetal mortality rates as well. As stated in the Maryland Maternal Mortality Review (“MMR”) 2018 Annual Report, 89 percent of all-pregnancy associated deaths in 2016 (the latest year reviewed by the MMR Committee) were judged to be preventable or potentially preventable. Maryland’s latest Vital Statistic Report (2017) confirms the importance of first trimester care and the prevention of fetal death; as 70 percent of live births were to women who began prenatal care during this time.

It is for these reasons that the Conference respectfully urges a favorable report for House Bill 127. Thank you for your consideration.