The rising cost of health care has been in the news a lot lately, and many parents may be concerned about how these changes will affect their abilities to afford treatment for their children. Proposed changes to national health care laws could have a significant impact on families either with children currently or planning to have them in the future, and experts say what happens next will be a major issue for many consumers.
One of the proposed changes to the current "essential benefits" under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the removal of required maternity coverage for health insurance, according to a report from CNNMoney. If that were to happen, the added cost to new parents of having a child in a hospital would likely increase. The average price for a hospital stay is in the mid-five figures, but insurance tends to cover a significant percentage of those costs. Without that safety net, new parents may face significant debts.
Previous data highlights major issues
Prior to the ACA's rules going into effect, only about 12 percent of policies obtained on the individual market included maternity coverage, the report said. In response, families bought maternity riders for their standard coverage, but typically those had to be purchased well in advance of their actually becoming pregnant, and could cost as much as $1,000 more per month.
However, under the proposed replacement for the ACA, it's possible that the federal government would allow individual states to set their own standards for "essential benefits."
These issues could be especially pressing to the millions of Americans enrolled in ACA-required insurance marketplaces nationwide, as these people are purchasing individual coverage for themselves, rather than having it supplied by an employer, according to FactCheck.org. Already, those people pay more for coverage than those with employer-sponsored plans, and costs for that coverage are also increasing more quickly; premiums on average "silver plans" in the exchanges climbed 25 percent from 2016 to 2017, compared to about 3 percent for policies obtained through an employer.
The importance of child care
Meanwhile, the ways in which the health insurance landscape is now shifting may have a particularly large effect on families that already have children, according to new data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Currently, the uninsurance rate among children is at just 5 percent, an all-time record low. Much of that has been achieved through the expansion of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. However, both may soon be rolled back, and could create major issues; nearly 2 in every 5 children nationwide are insured through Medicaid and CHIP, in comparison with 53 percent who get coverage from private insurance.
It's vital for parents to keep close tabs on these issues as time goes on, because while it's difficult to predict legislative changes, having a fall-back plan may be vital to ensuring happy, healthy families in the long term. Talking to insurers about what other options may be available can be a great way to come up with a strategy that keeps everyone covered.