Why We Need Universal Health Insurance with Maternity Coverage

Migrant Mother / Dorothea Lange, Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information / Office of Emergency Management / Resettlement Administration • Public domain

Some people wonder why health insurance plans should cover services like maternity care, even if they think they will never personally need it. Trump's pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, testified in Congress that she thinks maternity coverage should be optional, even for women. Let me explain why this is a terrible idea.

The reason why we all need to bear the burden of society is because otherwise the costs are too great to bear for any one person and you end up with ruined finances and health. If insurance gets too expensive only sick people buy it, and then it just gets more expensive because they actually have health needs that must be paid out to doctors and then insurance companies charge more to make their profits. Healthy people then don't buy insurance because they think they don't need it. Unless of course something unforeseen happens and they do, but by that time the cost of insurance becomes out of reach even for them.

This is what is known as an insurance death spiral, and it was happening to our healthcare system before the ACA was passed to require universal coverage. It would be like saying, "Why pay for road repairs for everyone; only those with bad roads should have to pay for their upkeep and repair". Soon enough, there wouldn't be enough money to pay for upkeep of 'healthy' roads, and they would fall into disarray too. This is the whole point of having social programs. The good of the many outweigh the inconvenience of the few.

If you want to blame anyone for increasing costs year over year, blame the useless, middleman insurance companies, who add zero value to healthcare delivery while taking huge profits off the top. It's not like maternity is more expensive because babies getting delivered is more expensive every year. It's because there are no universal price controls. You could have that plus collective bargaining for pharmaceuticals if only we ditched the for-profit insurance model, and had something like Medicare for All instead. They do this in other, more socially advanced countries than ours, and the cost of medical delivery has been controlled a lot more effectively. But God Forbid we consider data, facts, and how others successfully do things.