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New York warns insurers not to discriminate against mothers, pregnant women

Staff Writer |
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said that the Department of Financial Services has issued guidance to ensure insurers do not unfairly discriminate against pregnant and postpartum women.

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In a letter, DFS informed health insurers of their responsibility to properly underwrite life insurance and disability income insurance policies that do not unfairly discriminate against women diagnosed with maternal depression.

Under New York Insurance Law, insurers cannot refuse to issue, renew, or cancel any insurance policy because of any past treatment for a mental disability, including maternal depression. Insurers are also prohibited from limiting the amount, type of coverage, or charging a different rate for the same coverage solely because of a previous diagnosis of depression.

“Insurance companies are on notice that we will have zero tolerance for those who seek to unfairly discriminate against and deny services to New Yorkers struggling with maternal depression,” Governor Cuomo said.

“With this action, we are helping ensure pregnant and postpartum women across the state have access to the treatment they need to help build healthier lives for themselves and their families.”

This new directive follows guidance issued on April 25, 2016 by DFS requiring insurers offering group or individual health coverage to provide, with no copayment, coinsurance or deductible, preventative services such as depression screenings for pregnant and postpartum women.

Today’s guidance also advises insurers that DFS Superintendent Vullo may audit issuers to confirm that any underwriting of a life insurance or disability income insurance policy where maternal depression is relevant is based on sound underwriting and actuarial principles reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss experience.

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