Why Get Pregnancy Insurance?
Pregnancy insurance is one of the best ways to minimize the expenses that will come with your prenatal care and the hospital stay when you give birth. If you don’t have maternity insurance, you can anticipate spending around $10,000-$12,000. In 2011, the average cost of labor and delivery in a hospital was $10,657. This cost can increase dramatically if there are any complications.
Having bills pile up is stressful, which is not good for you or your baby. Thus, it is important to take care of your health and prepare for the baby without adding to financial pressures. Getting maternity insurance is one way to alleviate stress. Money which originally would have been spent on prenatal care and birth expenses can now be directed towards the other needs you and your baby have.
How To Get Maternity Insurance?
Under the Affordable Care Act, there have been many changes regarding health insurance, including pregnancy insurance. All qualified health plans (both within and outside of the Marketplace) are now required to provide maternity care and childbirth health benefits. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, only a handful of insurance plans automatically provided maternity coverage. For some plans, such coverage had to be requested as an addition. Also, if a woman tried to apply for maternity coverage after she became pregnant, coverage was oftentimes either unavailable or more expensive.
Fortunately, now pregnancy coverage is much more accessible. If you do not have medical coverage through an employer, Medicaid, or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), you can find an insurance plan through the Marketplace. For more information on getting health coverage through the Marketplace, visit www.healthcare.gov.
If you already have health insurance, it is important to know if your plan is grandfathered or not. Grandfathered insurance plans are those that were in place on March 23, 2010 and have not been significantly altered to affect consumer benefits or the cost of insurance to consumers. Individual grandfathered plans that you purchase yourself (not job-based grandfathered plans) are not obligated to provide maternity and childbirth benefits. If your plan is grandfathered, contact your insurance company to determine what coverage you have.
If you do not have coverage through the Marketplace or an employer, another option would be to apply for Medicaid and/or CHIP to cover maternity and childbirth health benefits. Eligibility is based on income requirements, which vary by state and are different for Medicaid and CHIP. Also, several states have broadened their income requirements. As such, even if you did not qualify previously, you may now be eligible. You can also apply for these programs at any point during the year.
Whether or not you get pregnancy insurance, you may also want to consider lower-cost options such as using a midwife or giving birth at a birth center. This can significantly reduce labor and delivery costs. Birth centers oftentimes offer payment plans, sliding scales, and accept Medicaid. Another option would be to look into a health care discount program for pregnancy coverage.