Yesterday, Peggy Robertson of Centennial, Colorado testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Gretchen Humphries, Advocacy Director for the International Cesarean Awareness Network accompanied Ms. Robertson, whose experience yesterday is detailed in this excerpt from a press release from ICAN:
Ms. Robertson testified about her experiences with discriminatory insurance practices based on her history of cesarean. View her testimony here. Ms. Robertson was featured in a New York Times article in July 2008 after she was declined insurance due to her previous cesarean. She was informed by the insurance company that her application would be accepted if she agreed to be sterilized.
As of 2007, 31.8% of childbearing women in the United States had a cesarean delivery and the rate continues to increase each year. These increases are due, in part, to the growing number of women who are denied the opportunity to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) through similarly discriminatory VBAC bans. “The prospect of rendering a third of women uninsurable is frightening and unconscionable,” said Desirre Andrews, President of ICAN. “Many of these women are being pressured or bullied into first-time and repeat cesareans, and to doubly inflict them by leaving them without health insurance is offensive.” Clearly this type of practice potentially affects a very large number of women now and in the future as the cesarean rate continues to climb and the vaginal birth after cesarean rate continues to decline.
Senator Harkin, the chair of the Senate HELP committee has asked for more stories similar to Peggy Robertson, the woman in Colorado who testified yesterday before the HELP committee about being denied coverage because of a previous cesarean, unless she could prove she had been sterilized.
ICAN needs stories about discriminatory insurance practices based on a previous cesarean. This can include but is not limited to demands for sterilization, restrictions on how soon you can have another pregnancy and be covered, higher premiums, restrictions on the total amount of benefits they will pay, excessively high deductibles for maternity care.
Stories may be a basic as name, state, contact information (an email address is fine) and a description of the circumstances with the name of the relevant insurance company (or companies) if possible. Written documentation from a company would be ideal to include in addition to your story.
There is interest about this at the highest levels of the federal government and ICAN plans to use this to open the discussion on other areas of discrimination, such as VBAC bans, lack of transparency and more.