When it comes to taking time off to start a family, American women face a variety of challenges. Half of all two-parent households in the U.S. have both parents working yet, we remain the only developed nation that doesn’t mandate paid leave for new parents. As Professional Massage Therapists themselves, the Staff at Healing Hands School of Holistic Health (and Massage) is sensitive to the needs of graduates who wish to start or grow their families. Toward that end, they offer the following information they’ll need to know when planning on having (or adopting) a baby.
What Massage Therapists Need to Know About Maternity Coverage
‘Maternity coverage’ is health insurance for pregnancy, labor, delivery and newborn baby care. It became a mandatory benefit of insurance plans in the United States in 2014. For the first time in US history, women were assured access to maternity coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Maternity Coverage is now considered an essential benefit offered by all ACA health insurance plans. Coverage includes ‘outpatient services’ such as: screenings for gestational diabetes, lab work, and pre and postnatal check-ups. Coverage of ‘inpatient services’ include hospitalization, physician fees, medications, baby care, counseling for breast-feeding and breast pump rental.
So, if you’re a Massage Therapist planning a birth or adoption, and do not have Employer provided health insurance, ACA is a viable alternative. You may compare plans and make a purchase at: www.AffordableCareCalifornia.org/Coverage-CA. It’s important to know that your baby’s birth triggers a ‘special 60-day enrollment period’ during which you can enroll or change health plans.
Note: Massage Therapists who are Members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), may select an optional health insurance plan at HealthInsurance.com . The web-site offers a wide variety of leading health insurance companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, HealthNet, Kaiser Permanente, PacifiCare and more. For AMTA member assistance choosing a plan call 1-855-345-0533.
What Massage Therapists Need to Know About Maternity Leave?
The terms ‘maternity leave’, ‘paternity leave’, and ‘parental leave’ refer to the time a parent-to-be takes off from work to prepare for the delivery and care for their newborn baby. The term may extend beyond the birth mother to include fathers, domestic partners and adoptive parents.
It is important to note that the US Federal Government does not guarantee maternity leave (paid leave) benefits to working women. Also, research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that only 60% of employers offered 12 weeks of maternity leave, which may or may not be fully paid.
So, what is a Professional Massage Therapist to do to maximize her income if she plans to have or adopt a baby? Below are a few options:
Option #1 – Employer Provided “Paid Leave” (aka – Short-term Disability Insurance or STD)
Some companies say they offer paid leave when it’s really short-term disability insurance (SDI). SDI is private insurance that replaces part of your income if an injury, illness or pregnancy prevents you from working. Some employers provide group STD policies as part of their benefits packages.
STD coverage can offer income if you miss work due to late-stage pregnancy, pregnancy complications, childbirth, and recovery. Most STD plans cover between 50 to 100 percent of your salary for six weeks of leave after birth or adoption. It may be longer if you’ve had a C-section or other medical complications. Massage Therapists who wish to become pregnant should speak with their Human Resources representative to discuss specific eligibility requirements and plan benefits.
Option #2 – Shared “Short Term Disability” (STD Benefits)
Some Massage Therapist employers offer pregnant employees (who qualify) an optional Short-Term Disability Insurance plan they may elect prior to getting pregnant. In this case, the plan is typically administered by a third party and policy payments may be paid, at least in part, by the employer. Since this kind of plan must be elected before you become pregnant, it will require some fore-thought and planning.
Option #3 – State Disability Insurance – (SDI Benefits)
California’s State Disability Insurance (SDI) Program provides short-term Disability Insurance (DI) income replacement benefits to eligible workers in need of time off work. You may be eligible for DI if you are unable to work due to non-work-related illness or injury, pregnancy, or childbirth.
Note: Check back next week for Part 2 of 2