Pregnant and Uninsured: Navigating Pregnancy Without Maternity Insurance
first things first: congratulations on your pregnancy! You’re already doing the right thing by recognizing how important good prenatal care is, even though it can be expensive. But as you’re no doubt learning, it’s hard to stay excited about your little bun in the oven when you don’t know how you’ll pay for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. A typical delivery varies widely across the United States and can cost up to $18,000, and that doesn’t take into account complications like an emergency C-section.
The good news: Insurers can’t deny coverage to uninsured moms-to-be. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obamacare, private insurance companies are required to cover pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy. however, there is always the chance that congress will overturn obamacare and the pregnancy will revert to a pre-existing condition, so it’s a good thing you’re pregnant now, while coverage is available to you.
If your employer or your partner’s employer doesn’t offer insurance or you’re unemployed, you may be able to apply for a health plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. but you must enroll during the open enrollment period, which occurs annually, unless you are eligible for special enrollment. While pregnancy itself is not considered a qualifying life event, giving birth, along with marriage, divorce, and moving, does count. Learn more, including how to contact a local marketplace representative, at healthcare.gov.
If not, there are still several other options that can help you afford high-quality care now. Here are some ways to keep this baby from breaking the bank:
- double check your medicaid eligibility. Even if you haven’t qualified in the past, many states raise your income requirement during pregnancy to help more pregnant women get coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation also has a list of income limits for each state. or call your local health insurance marketplace representative or local health department to find out if you’re eligible.
- check cobra eligibility. If you or your partner were recently unemployed and previously had health insurance, you may be able to get coverage for up to 18 or 36 months (depending on the circumstances) through a program called Cobra consolidated bus). ). Unfortunately, cobra premiums are often very high since they don’t include employer contributions, but it can still save you money compared to paying out of pocket. contact your previous employer’s human resources department for more information.
- check with your parents. according to the aca, if one of your parents has a health plan, you should be able to add them as a dependent until they are 26 years old, even if you do not live with them, whether married or not and regardless of whether you have been declared as dependent or not on your taxes. The capture? you may have to wait for an open enrollment period to be added, and many health plans don’t cover maternity services for dependents, so be sure to research that first.
- negotiate the discounts. if you have researched your other insurance options and find that you still have to pay out of pocket for your care, call your health care providers; they may be able to help you. many doctors and hospitals will give you a discount, sometimes as much as 20 or 30 percent, if you pay in cash. They also often offer payment plans that give you the option to pay the bill over time. Another possibility: discount health care services or discount cards, which negotiate price cuts on health care services for a monthly fee. just be sure to read the fine print to see if your health care providers and services are covered and if there aren’t any hidden fees.
- Consider a birthing center and midwife. If you are in good health, have a low risk of complications, and want a medication-free birth, you can save a lot by giving birth in a birthing center instead of a hospital. In a birthing center, the average uncomplicated vaginal delivery typically costs about half what the same type of delivery would cost in a hospital. You’ll save even more if you use a midwife instead of a doctor, and you’ll increase your chances of having the natural birth you’re hoping for. But keep in mind that your comfort during labor is worth the high cost, so if your heart is set on a hospital birth, don’t compromise on saving money.