This afternoon, while debating an amendment to prohibit the federal government from “defining the health care benefits offered through private insurance,” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) argued, “I don’t need maternity care, and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) interjected into Kyl’s remarks to remind him, “I think your mom probably did.” Watch it:
Kyl’s amendment would prohibit the government from defining which benefits should be included in a standard benefit package and would permit health insurance companies to design policies that exclude higher-cost beneficiaries. Currently, “it is difficult and costly for women to find health insurance that covers maternity care” in the individual health insurance market. According to a survey conducted by the National Women’s Law Center, the vast majority of individual market health insurance policies “do not cover maternity care at all. A limited number of insurers sell separate maternity coverage for an additional fee known as a ‘rider,’ but this supplemental coverage is often expensive and limited in scope.”
A well defined minimum benefits package would compel health insurers to provide basic services to all Americans. The Kyl amendment, which ultimately failed, would have allowed the industry to continue profiting from discriminatory practices. As former health insurance executive Wendell Potter explained in an interview with ThinkProress, insurers would like to move us all into “these limited benefit plans that are very skimpy and don’t cover you, don’t cover what you need. That way, when you do get sick, they’re not on the hook to pay you anything. They would love to have you enrolled in these.”
Just 14 states require insurers to provide maternity care benefits.