Although California’s low-income health plan paid for prenatal care, until recently it sometimes didn’t cover other medical conditions that women faced during pregnancy. The exclusions included conditions, ranging from broken bones to cancer, that could influence the health of the baby.
That changed Aug. 1 when the state expanded Medi-Cal for pregnant women, allowing them the same health coverage that it had already extended to other low-income people since 2013. Low-income women with asthma, infections or other health problems no longer have to worry that treatment for those issues won’t be covered during pregnancy.
“It’s a basic equity issue to have pregnant women have the same full scope of benefits as their adult counterparts,” said Elizabeth Landsberg, director of legislative advocacy for the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which advocated for the change.
Women’s health advocates applaud the expansion of benefits, but say there are some access concerns that remain, such as whether pregnant women and doctors are aware of the new coverage and whether there will be enough providers to meet the demand.