New regulation to require insurers cover maternal depression screenings

June 04, 2019 06:23 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) -- A new regulation in New York state will require insurance companies to cover the cost of maternal depression screenings and provide referrals to treatment when necessary.

With one in seven women experiencing depression either during or right after giving birth, doctors say the mandate could save lives. 


Maternal depression is highly treatable if it's identified early but too often women try to cope with it on their own which isn't ideal for the woman or the baby.

"We attribute way too much to the hormones of pregnancy and we don't think enough about what's normal and what's abnormal," warns Dr. Mary Elizabeth Bostock of Rochester Regional Health's Obstetrics and Gynecology department.  

That's why most doctors already screen for depression at least twice before a woman gives birth.

Those most at risk for developing post-partum depression include women who've experienced depression in the past, those with complicated medical or pregnancy issues or those with financial hardships. Women who've recently had life stressors at work or in their relationships are susceptible too.

Just because you don't show symptoms during pregnancy doesn't mean they won't develop. Typically, a woman doesn't see her OB/GYN until about six weeks after delivery but Rochester Regional is changing its policies to try and see every patient at two weeks post partum.

"We're moving to do visits earlier and more frequently during that first year," explains Dr. Bostock.  

Starting in August, New York will also require insurers cover the cost of maternal depression screenings.

"Economically, I don't think it makes a huge difference but what's most important is really the acknowledgment that mental health issues in women and women who are childbearing are significant issues that we need to acknowledge and take care of in our community," says Bostock. 


Jennifer Lewke

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