I’ll be changing jobs next month, and I’m pregnant. Will I qualify for health insurance coverage with my new employer?

Answer:

That depends on several factors. If your new employer offers a group health insurance plan, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may apply. This act prevents your new group health plan from treating your pregnancy as a pre-existing condition if you were covered by group health insurance through your previous employer. But read your new policy carefully. Although most health plans cover maternity care and pregnancy, in some instances the health plan offered by your new employer may not include such coverage. Unfortunately, you won’t qualify for the protection offered by HIPAA if you had an individual (nongroup) health policy or if you had no health insurance at all.

Even if your new employer’s group plan includes pregnancy and maternity care, you may be subject to a waiting period before you become eligible for coverage. So, if you need prenatal care during this period, you may need to pay for the doctor’s visits out of your own pocket. Remember that you may need more care near the end of your term. You may be able to continue health coverage through your previous employer under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, but you’ll have to pay the full premiums yourself.

Of course, your new company may not provide health insurance coverage, in which case, you’ll probably have to shop for individual health coverage. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that health plans in the individual and small group market (that are not considered grandfathered plans) offer minimum essential health benefits including maternity and newborn care. And, if you can’t find an individual health insurance policy that will cover you at an affordable price, you can shop for and purchase a health insurance plan that will cover your pregnancy through either a state-based or federal health insurance Exchange Marketplace.

So, before you take a new job, make sure that you understand the coverage and eligibility requirements of your new employer’s health insurance plan. Plan carefully for the protection of your health and the health of your baby.