Memorandum in Opposition

For Immediate Release: May 19, 2023

Re:      S.1965 (Addabbo) / A.3865 (Gunther)  – AN ACT An act to amend the insurance law, in relation to coverage for prenatal vitamins

This legislation, S.1965/A.3865 would require health insurance providers to cover prenatal vitamins.  New York’s health plans provide coverage for prenatal vitamins for pregnant women; however, the New York Health Plan Association (HPA) opposes the legislation. While well intentioned, the bill is unnecessary as most plans currently provide this benefit.  Creating new health insurance coverage mandates results in increased costs for individuals and employers purchasing health insurance in New York. Accordingly, the New York Health Plan Association (HPA) opposes this bill.

Mandating coverage of specific services disproportionately affect small and medium-sized employers. Forcing employers to include benefits they and their workforce may not want or need exacerbates the challenge they face to find affordable health care options.  Mandated benefit bills pertain only to fully-insured policies, which are generally those purchased either by individuals who buy coverage on their own or receive it through a small or medium-sized business.  Large companies typically “self-insure,” providing employee health benefits by directly paying health care claims to providers, which are governed by the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and therefore not subject to state mandated benefits.  This exemption offers self-insured employers greater control over the particular benefits they cover for their employees.

One reason large employers typically self-insure is to avoid covering certain mandated benefits.  Today, more than 50 percent of the commercial market in New York is covered under a self-insured plan.  As more employers self-insure, state laws mandating specific types of benefits and services affect an increasingly smaller portion of the privately insured marketplace and fall largely on small and medium-sized employers.

At a time when many New Yorkers are struggling to afford the health insurance coverage they have, this bill is ill advised and duplicates existing benefits. We urge you to say no to S.1965/A.3865