Childbirth Hospital Stay Coverage Final Rules Unveiled

October 17, 2008 ( - Federal regulators have released final rules governing implementation of the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act that governs the length of hospital stays insurers must cover after childbirth.

Friday’s rule release came from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which have jurisdiction over the September 1996 law.

According to a news release, group health plans and health insurance issuers may not restrict benefits for a hospital stay in connection with childbirth to less than 48 hours (or 96 hours following a cesarean section).     An attending provider, in consultation with the mother, is free to discharge earlier.  

The announcement said the law features a list of prohibitions to ensure that the exception does not result in early discharges that may adversely affect the health of the mother or newborn.

The final rules replace interim final rules adopted in 1998 and are to be published in the October 20 edition of the Federal Register .  They will be applicable on the first day of the first plan year on or after January 1, 2009.  

For more information, contact EBSA at 866-444-3272 or go to