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Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel

Dania is a Senior Counsel for Health and Reproductive Rights. Her work focuses primarily on implementing health reform and expanding access to quality, affordable health care for women and their families. Prior to joining the Law Center, Dania worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Starting her work at SEIU in the research department, she became interested in expanding access to health care to low income families and spent a few years as Deputy Administrator of a health benefit program at SEIU, working to provide affordable health insurance to previously uninsured low wage workers and their families. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), she worked on implementing the law as Associate Director of Health Policy. Her background in the ACA includes insurance reforms, coverage expansions and delivery system reform, with particular expertise in employer benefits and insurance reforms. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

My Take

Connecticut Ends Discriminatory Limit on Infertility Coverage

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: August 14, 2015 at 01:51 pm

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans offered in Connecticut will no longer discriminate against women and men over 40.

Connecticut is 1 of 15 states that require health insurance plans to cover some infertility services. While the Connecticut law expanded women’s access to infertility services, it also allowed issuers to limit infertility coverage to women under age 40. As we detailed in our State of Women’s Coverage report released earlier this year, five issuers offering plans in 2015 through the state’s health insurance marketplace, Access Health CT, discriminate based on age by limiting infertility coverage to women under age 40. According to data by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 23 percent of assisted reproductive technology services [PDF] used by women are used by women over age 40.


Same Sex Marriage To Do List: Check Health Insurance Options

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 02, 2015 at 04:40 pm

When you’re planning a wedding, the to do lists just keep growing. You need a location. You need a caterer. A florist. An officiant. A health insurance assistor. A photographer. You need to pick out invitations, trim down the invitation list, pick the best health coverage option, choose a menu.

Wait, what was that about health insurance and health coverage?


Covered Through a Parent's Plan? Your Prenatal Services are Covered

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: May 12, 2015 at 03:35 pm

The Obama Administration gave expectant moms a belated mother’s day gift. Guidance issued yesterday clarifies that new insurance plans must cover preventive prenatal services without cost sharing for all dependents — including expectant mothers enrolled on a parent’s plan. This is great news for expectant mothers who discover once they are pregnant that they don’t have maternity coverage under their parent’s plan.

What New Plans Must Cover


Can The Supreme Court Take Away Maternity Coverage?

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 03, 2015 at 11:12 am

Imagine an insurance market where only 12% of health insurance plans include maternity coverage. Imagine further that if a woman wanted to add maternity coverage, she would have to pay thousands of additional dollars each year and, even then, the insurance would not cover her pregnancy until she passed a one or two year waiting period. If a woman was pregnant when she applied for coverage or had a previous caesarian delivery, she could be denied health insurance.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to imagine, since this was the individual health insurance market in the United States just fifteen months ago.

When LaDonna Appelbaum became pregnant in 2010, she discovered that her health insurance did not cover maternity care — it did not cover any costs related to prenatal care, nor any related to her eventual miscarriage. When she searched for a new policy that would provide these benefits, she was told that she would have to endure a one-year waiting period for pregnancy coverage — and then her premiums would quadruple.

The individual health insurance market failed women like LaDonna before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. On Wednesday, March 4, the Supreme Court will hear a case that could bring those failures back.


State Advocates’ Agenda for Private Health Insurance in 2015

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: February 18, 2015 at 02:08 pm

Cross-posted from FamiliesUSA — posted by Cheryl Fish-Parcham and Claire McAndrew

Around the country, health care advocates are developing advocacy agendas to ensure that private health insurance plans meet consumers’ needs. From addressing high costs for consumers to strengthening provider networks to improving prescription drug formularies, advocates have a lot of work planned this year to improve private insurance. 

Here, we list some of the top private insurance issues that are on advocates’ 2015 agendas, along with best practices and resources that advocates shared with their peers at our Health Action conference