Since September 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has permitted young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26. But for young women who are still on their parents’ plans, coverage doesn’t include maternity services. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) claims that lack of coverage for dependents is discriminatory.

Yesterday, the NWLC filed sex discrimination complaints against five large, publicly funded institutions, claiming that by not providing maternity services to young women on their parents’ plans, they are violating a provision of the PPACA that prohibits discrimination in health benefits on the basis of gender.

“Pregnancy coverage is an essential insurance benefit for women,” NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger said in a press release. “Our message to every institution providing health insurance in the country is that treating pregnancy differently, including by omitting it from health insurance coverage, is sex discrimination pure and simple and as such violates the law.”

The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employer-provided health insurance to cover maternity benefits for spouses. However, the law has never been interpreted to require that employer-provided health insurance also covers dependents.

The NWLC’s complaints target Battelle Memorial Institute, Beacon Health System, Auburn University, Gonzaga University and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Read NPR for more about the sex discrimination complaints.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of the PPACA, read:

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