The U.S.O.C. wants to change coverage rules to stop the loss of coverage due to pregnancy.
The U.S. Olympic Committee has announced that it is pursuing reforms to pregnant athlete insurance regulations. At the moment, Olympic athletes typically lose their health insurance coverage as a result of pregnancy.
The U.S.O.C. is moving to change that regulation to allow athletes to keep their health insurance.
Last week, three senators wrote to Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the U.S.O.C. They requested that she provide details regarding her organization’s insurance program. They also stated that failing to provide pregnant athlete insurance was wrong. In the letter, they stated directly that if an athlete loses health insurance as a result of becoming pregnant, it was “unconscionable and may put at risk her health and that of her child.”
The U.S.O.C. provides insurance funding to the national governing bodies that operate the various individual sports. Those national governing bodies (N.G.Bs.) are then responsible for using that funding to determine which among their athletes would receive health insurance coverage. This includes determining the conditions under which an athlete would qualify for a health plan.
Frequently, pregnant athlete insurance was not offered and pregnancy caused women to become ineligible.
The senators who penned the letter to Hirschland included Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin). In response to their request, the U.S.O.C. released a public statement.
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The statement read: “Pregnancy or needing a break from competition for other important reasons can’t unfairly impact eligibility, and we are working to ensure that policy is uniform across each NGB’s eligibility standards.”
In May, the New York Times printed an editorial piece by U.S. sprinter Alysia Montano. Within the piece, she described how both she and U.S. distance runner Kara Goucher lost their health insurance when they became pregnant. The justification for cancelling the coverage was that the athletes were no longer able to compete and were no longer eligible.
The senators have requested a briefing from the U.S.O.C. on Friday in order to discuss the issue of pregnant athlete insurance in greater detail. At the time of writing of this article, it appeared that both sides were open to expanding health insurance coverage to athletes during pregnancy.