Question: 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, your new plan is not required to do so if it doesn't normally offer 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. In either case, your pregnancy could be considered a pre-existing condition, and you may be subject to a waiting period under your new health plan.

Even if your new employer's group plan includes pregnancy and maternity care, you may be subject to such 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 this case, you can apply for an individual health insurance policy, but it will be difficult to find an insurer that will cover you at an affordable price due to your pregnancy. Therefore, 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.