C-Sections: The New Pre-Existing Condition

Jodi Jacobson

Think everything is ok with the health system? Maybe if you are a fetus. Otherwise, prepare to suffer under the mountain of pre-existing conditions for which insurance companies are seeking to reduce or eliminate coverage. C-sections are considered a pre-existing condition and the lack of maternity care coverage is justified because "having a child is a choice."

Think everything is ok with the health system?  Maybe if you are a fetus.  Otherwise, prepare to suffer under the mountain of pre-existing conditions for which insurance companies are seeking to reduce or eliminate coverage.

Our colleague Lucinda Marshall of the Feminist Peace Network just called attention to a report by Think Progress that c-sections are being considered “pre-existing” conditions.  (This follows on a piece by our own Amie Newman on domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition.)

Marshall writes:

Last week, it was pointed out that in some states,  our so-called health insurance companies are allowed to consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition.  As Think Progress
points out, having had a cesarian section can also be considered a
pre-existing condition.  Never mind that the U.S. has a sky rocketing
c-section rate and that said c-sections are often performed for reasons other than because of medical necessity, such as soaring malpractice insurance rates.

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See this article by Miriam Perez on the over- and misuse of c-sections.

Moreover, for all the exhaltation of zygotes and fetuses, many women have no coverage of maternity care. From Think Progress:

But that isn’t the only policy that health insurers have that primarily
discriminate against women. First of all, most individual health
insurance markets don’t cover maternity care. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 14 states have a requirement for such coverage, and the number of plans without maternity coverage continues to rise dramatically.

Why is this so?  According to Think Progress:

Anthem Blue Cross — which has been actively fighting health care reformconsiders pregnancy optional and therefore not necessary to insure

An Anthem official stated:

“The point of insurance is to insure against
catastrophic care costs. That’s what you’re trying to aggregate and
pool for such things as heart attacks and cancer,” said an Anthem Blue
Cross spokesman. “Having a child is a matter of choice. Dealing with an adult onset illness, such as diabetes, heart disease breast or prostate cancer, is not a matter of choice.”

I thought the bumper sticker said “it’s a child, NOT a choice.”

Now I am really confused.

Lucinda Marshall puts it succinctly:

OH NO! ! It looks like we’re being accused of making reproductive choices again!

On the one hand you’ve got the faux family values folks telling us
that we are baby killers if we exercise the right to end a pregnancy
and we also have the insurance companies  sticking us with the risk of
going bankrupt if we have a c-section.  Some choice.

And women are bearing all of the financial risk why?  And what about
pregnancies where the mother would have preferred to get an abortion
and couldn’t?  And what about pregnancies that are because the  parents
didn’t understand about contraception because they attended a school
with abstinence only sex ed?  Does this spokesperson comprehend that
the “choice” to have children is how the human species propagates?

This isn’t about choice.  It is first of all about insurance
companies being out to insure one thing only–their profits, at the
expense of the health of the citizens of this nation and secondly that
there are not adequate laws protecting women from misogynist
profiteering that violate their human rights.  Full stop.  Enough.  We
need single payer universal healthcare now and we need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and CEDAW to insure that these horrifying practices end immediately.

So the anti-choicers want insurance companies to stop covering contraception and abortion care, but have you heard ONE peep out of them about the lack of maternity care coverage?  I haven’t and if you have, please advise.  It’s awwwwfully quiet out there and I am suspecting none of the plenary speakers at the so-called “Values Voters Summit” this week are going to be focusing on this.

Here’s the worst pre-existing condition: Possession of a working brain.  Because if you have one, and you think about all of this, you are sure to go insane.


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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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