“If I wasn't accepted for Medicaid, I honestly have no idea what I would do… I experienced postpartum depression after having my daughter. It was hard, but medical bills weren't a worry of mine because I was blessed with covered healthcare. I feel thankful for everything I have and everything that's to come.” - MomsRising member in Mesa, AZ
Medicaid plays a critical role in making sure pregnant people have health care coverage, covering nearly half of all births in the United States. This health insurance program is especially important for people of color, covering two-thirds of Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander births. However, for many people, coverage ends just 60 days after giving birth.
Mental health is a common pregnancy-related struggle affecting up to a quarter of people who have recently given birth, with a higher instance among low-income people, who are more likely to be covered by Medicaid or CHIP. Access to mental health services is critically important for the well-being of the birthing person, their children, and family. Insurance increases a person’s ability to access mental health care, so it is especially important for people to have health insurance after giving birth. Research has found that postpartum depression can last years after giving birth. However, up until recently, Medicaid coverage was only required for 60 days postpartum. This means that for a lot of people, coverage is being taken away right when they need it most.
What’s happening? The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 gave states the option to extend the postpartum coverage period for Medicaid and CHIP from 60 days following pregnancy to a full year, starting in April of this year. However, this important new provision that helps make sure birthing parents have the health care they need—including mental health care—during their child’s first year of life, is currently only available to states for five years. We have the opportunity to make this option permanent, we just need Congress to take action!