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What is Pregnancy or Maternity Insurance?
Listen up, all you mamas to be: if you want to protect your baby, one of the best things you can do is get yourself a great pregnancy insurance plan. Access to good medical care is a crucial aspect of health and well-being during pregnancy for both mothers and infants, so read on to make sure that you and your family will be properly provided for during this exciting time.
Rather than a separate insurance policy, pregnancy insurance is usually sold in the form of additional coverage for families or single women who think they may become pregnant in the future. It essentially covers all the medical costs a woman may accrue during pregnancy -- doctor's visits, hospital stays, and treatment for any possible complications. That way, you can focus on your baby instead of on your bills! Pregnancy is considered a preexisting condition by most insurance companies, so make sure your policy includes pregnancy coverage before you pop any buns into the oven.
Pregnancy insurance is sometimes referred to as maternity insurance, but in either case it refers to a health insurance plan which covers the medical needs of both mother and child during the nine months before birth. Don't think that your baby isn't covered if you take out a maternity policy! Maternity insurance may cost less or more depending upon the insurance company you choose, so it pays to shop around and find good coverage right from the get-go. Women who can't afford private maternity insurance may still be covered by state and federally funded Medicaid.
Why is Pregnancy Insurance so Important?
While most people think of pregnancy as a time to knit booties, buy blankies, and "nest" in preparation for the baby on the way, the unfortunate truth is that pregnancy can also be a risky venture, health-wise. While women today are much luckier than their ancestors, childbirth is still a huge stressor on the body, and can be affected or complicated by everything from nutrient deficiencies to bacterial infections. Preventative prenatal care can help keep mamas-to-be and their babies healthy, and women who have health insurance are far more likely to seek out that prenatal care.
Maternity insurance is especially important for women who may experience complications during pregnancy, as it can be the difference between a small copay and significant medical debt. Women who are under 18, over 40, or who have experienced previous medical issues have a greater chance of developing health complications, and their pregnancies are usually referred to as "high-risk." High risk pregnancies can incur a number of unexpected medical and preventative care costs; in these cases, maternity insurance may be a life-saver!
Tips for Saving Money on Maternity Insurance
Different insurance companies offer various levels of prenatal and maternity coverage, so one of the best things you can do to save money is shop around before purchasing a policy! Ask about co-pays and shared costs, as well as aspects of prenatal care that may not be covered by an insurance policy. Will you be paying 10% of the total cost? 20%? How many doctor's visits are covered? Which tests and procedures will you have to pay for out of pocket? This type of information alone may save you a great deal of money if you are choosing health insurance with maternity coverage.
Pregnancy Insurance Alternatives
If you're pregnant and not currently insured, fear not! There are plenty of ways to save money without maternity coverage. Women with low risk pregnancies that is, those who are in good health, of an appropriate age, and not expected to experience complications can save about half the cost of a hospital birth by choosing to use a birthing center instead. Birthing centers usually charge around $3000-$4000 for delivery and prenatal care, and may be a more affordable option for some families.
Whether or not you currently have maternity health insurance, women planning on a hospital delivery can save a significant amount of money by pre-negotiating care costs. Speak to your doctor about the cost of the procedures required for all standard births, and see if you can get a discount by paying cash in advance. After you have given birth, be sure to go over the hospital bill and check for errors even if your costs have been covered by insurance! Hospital billing systems often charge twice for the same procedure, and if you don't catch the error you may find yourself paying for services you never used.
Government Funded Maternity Programs
Women and families who make less than $30,000 a year may want to check out federally funded healthcare, or Medicaid, options. Medicaid varies from state to state, and some programs such as California's Medi-Cal offer additional coverage for pregnancy. For more information, see your local department of health they will have information, brochures, and the necessary paperwork to help you find out if you qualify for the program.
WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) is another federal agency designed to improve the health and well-being of you and your baby. WIC is not a maternity insurance plan, but offers information on nutrition and prenatal supplements in addition to fresh, healthy foods for mothers and children. The WIC program is designed to prevent complications during pregnancy and childbirth by providing the foundations for healthy eating, living and child development. They also offer a healthcare referral service, which may be useful for women who don't have a regular physician or family doctor.
Health Care Discount Programs for Pregnant Mothers
If you're reading this and thinking, "I don't have insurance OR qualify for Medicaid," cheer up AmeriPlan is another option for women and families without maternity insurance plans. Because AmeriPlan is not an insurance program, it covers all preexisting conditions (except for orthodontic treatments already underway), so you can start at any time, and there are no deductibles or co-pays to worry about. AmeriPlan can save you up to 50% on health care costs and doctor's visits, so it's worth looking into if you aren't eligible for private or state-run insurance programs.
Many hospitals and doctors offer discounts for uninsured patients who pay in cash, either in advance or on the spot, so ask whether this is possible when shopping around for prenatal care. Joining the American Pregnancy Association (APA) can also save you money. It's not an insurance plan, but membership allows you to access a variety of health care discounts in addition to a 24/7 phone hotline which will allow you to speak with a nurse or doctor when questions or concerns arise.
Taking Care of Mom and Baby
Ultimately, you want to know that you're getting the best care possible for you and your unborn child. Pregnancy insurance can relieve many of the stress factors associated with prenatal health care, but if you're one of the many uninsured or under-insured mamas-to-be in America, the options listed above may help you to afford the care you need. Frugality is a virtue in many cases, but when it comes to pregnancy insurance and insurance alternatives, nothing should be more important than your health. Taking care of your baby means taking care of yourself!
Pregnancy Insurance Stats
- 13% of all pregnancies are uninsured
- 57% of uninsured pregnant women do not begin prenatal care until the second trimester or later
- 12% of all births are premature
- Between 40 to 80 million Americans are uninsured at any given point
- Approximately 1 in 10 babies are born with low birth weight.