Downey Bill to Require Hospitals, Birthing Centers to Provide Parents with Info on Health Insurance for Newborns Passes Assembly

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Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey that would require New Jersey hospitals and birthing centers to provide informational literature on health insurance coverage for newborns to new parents cleared the Assembly, 74-0, on Thursday.

Under current law, newborns are automatically covered under their parents' insurance for a period of 30 days after the date of birth. If the insurance company is not notified of the birth within the time, coverage for newborns lapses until the next open enrollment period.

"There's a lot to remember when planning for the arrival of a new baby," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "Ensuring continuous health benefits coverage for a newborn is just as important as making sure you've packed the baby blankets. The intent of this bill is to remind parents of the urgency in obtaining health insurance within the specified period of time." 

According to the sponsors, this lack of knowledge about the coverage enrollment window can leave new parents footing the bill for wellness visits for their child and can be especially taxing for single mothers attempting to adapt to life with a new baby.

Under the legislation (A-1458) the state departments of Health (DOH) and Banking and Insurance (DOBI) would be required to prepare and make available to hospitals and birthing centers informational literature on health insurance coverage for newborns.

  • The literature would inform new parents of:
    The timeline under which the parent's health insurance policy provides coverage for a newborn child; and
  • How to obtain coverage for that child after that period under:
  • The parent's policy;
  • A separate, private health insurance policy; or
  • A public health coverage plan.

The measure would take effect four months following its enactment. The bill was released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee on June 6. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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