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Bill Would Mandate Maternity Coverage


California women with individual health-insurance polices have to pay extra for maternity care. A bill introduced in the state senate would change that.

— A bill introduced in the state senate would require all health insurance plans to cover maternity care. California women with individual policies have to pay extra for the benefit.

State law requires HMOs and group plans to cover maternity care. That's not the case with policies purchased on the individual market. Supporters of mandating the benefit say only a small percentage of individual plans offer it.

Dr. David Priver is a San Diego OBGYN. He said pregnant women who don't have maternity coverage face big medical bills.

"Prenatal care is only part of the picture," Priver said. "The major expense, really, is when they go into the hospital. The whole package together would probably run $10,000, I would think, for a relatively uncomplicated case."

Insurers say mandated maternity coverage would drive up costs for everyone.

Last year, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that required plans to offer maternity benefits.

The issue will be moot in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act will require all plans to cover maternity care.

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