Last week, a Ms. Magazine blog post brought to our attention an important California initiative that would protect women’s health insurance during pregnancy. Unlike most states, California offers Pregnancy Leave up to four months for eligible women and Paid Family Leave, which provides employees with a portion of their income during their leave from work. However, these laws do not require employers to keep their employees on a health insurance plan during their pregnancy leave. The California Work and Family Coalition is working to fill this gap in the law. SB 299 (pdf) would make it illegal for an employer to remove a pregnant woman from her health plan during her leave, assuming that leave is no longer than four months out of a year.
As Ms. points out, women need their health insurance more than ever during pregnancy: “Statistics show that approximately 13 percent of women will have a complication from pregnancy requiring them to be hospitalized before delivery. Twenty percent of pregnant women spend a minimum of one week on bedrest during the course of their pregnancy.”
The fact that most California women can take a leave of absence from work during pregnancy without fear of losing their jobs is an important victory for them and their families. The next step is to ensure that they can take leave without fear of losing their health care.