Childbirth and conditions related to pregnancy account for nearly 25% of all hospital stays in the United States, so thinking about insurance is an important part of planning for your baby.
You will have more options for covering the cost of childbirth if you make plans ahead of time. If you already have health insurance, it's important to read through your benefits summary or speak with a representative of the insurance company. In some cases your insurance may have a waiting period before it covers maternity care, or there may be an additional rider (extra part) that you have to purchase.
Choosing a doctor and a hospital
Many hospitals market their birthing room options since childbirth is one of the few instances in which the patient actually plans ahead of time for hospitalization. If there is more than one hospital in your area, you can shop for one whose approach you like -- but the obstetrician you choose will need to have to admit privileges there. Before choosing an obstetrician, make sure their office or clinic is listed on your health insurer's list of approved providers. It's good to become familiar with all the doctors who work together in a practice, because if you go into labor when your regular physician is not available, you will be cared for by another member of his or her practice group.
If you are already pregnant
About 13% of women who become pregnant in the United States each year do not have health insurance. Since insurers treat pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, it's usually impossible to buy private health insurance to cover childbirth once you are pregnant. This fact will change as of January 1, 2014, when all the provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act become effective. After that date, insurance providers will not be allowed to classify pregnancy as a pre-existing condition or to impose any waiting period before providing prenatal care.
For now, if you are pregnant and uninsured, you should check with your state's department of social and health services to see if your income qualifies you for Medicaid. If you are eligible, then you need to search for an obstetrical practice that is willing to accept Medicaid patients.
If your family income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to reduce your out-of-pocket costs by choosing to have your baby at a birthing center instead of a hospital. Birthing centers often have relationships with nearby hospitals and provide superior outcomes for healthy women at half the cost of a hospital stay. If you do plan to have your baby in a hospital, speak with the hospital billing office ahead of time about the possibility of sliding-scale costs or a payment plan.
Insurance for your new baby
This part is easy, fortunately: all insurance policies which cover childbirth also cover the newborn baby for an initial period of weeks. Existing health insurance policies all have provisions for adding new family members when they are born, and you can usually take care of this after resting up from having your baby. If you are uninsured, you can buy an affordable insurance policy for your baby through your state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
For more information about Colorado health insurance, give us a call at 888.279.9701.