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California lawmakers push insurers to universally cover prenatal screening tests

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California lawmakers push insurers to universally cover prenatal screening tests

A group of California lawmakers recently sent letters to Aetna and UnitedHealthcare urging them to fully cover non-invasive prenatal testing for all pregnant women in the state.

The two insurance companies temporarily covered non-invasive prenatal testing, or NIPT, for younger women during the pandemic, but the letters implore them to broaden the coverage beyond COVID-19.

Instead of offering coverage for NIPT like other insurers including Cigna, Blue Shield of California and Optima Health, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare only cover screening tests that can cause pregnant women and their families additional costs, and referrals to specialists for further testing, according to the letters.

WHY THIS MATTERS

NIPT is used to determine the risk that a fetus will be born with certain abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome.

It has been found to be the most accurate prenatal screening test and has a detection rate for Down’s syndrome of more than 99%, with a false positive rate as low as 0.1%, according to a study from The New England Journal of Medicine. The same study found that traditional screening tests miss up to 21% of Down’s syndrome cases.The letter cites one reason that insurers should cover NIPT is to avoid “wrongful birth lawsuits,” where parents claim […]

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