Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Having a Baby Without Maternity Insurance

This is not a post that I looked forward to writing, but after my experience, I thought it would be important to share. I have found through conversation & just searching around online that I am definitely not the only one with this problem. I also want to say that my blog is not a place where I feel the need to discuss or debate political issues. This is not a post endorsing or contesting the new health care plan, but, I do believe there is a problem with some (many?) aspects of our health care system. I do not offer a solution to that problem, but I will offer some tips as to how we were able to lower our prenatal & delivery costs during pregnancy with no maternity coverage.

I do have health insurance through a popular company and have held it on my own - not through an employer - for almost 5 years. When I applied for the plan, I requested the plan with maternity coverage & received an approval letter. I never received any letter stating that the plan I was approved for was different than the plan I applied for. I was never notified that I did not have maternity coverage. Therefore, we started trying to get pregnant, got pregnant, & found out when we received the bill for our first prenatal appointment & ultrasound that I had no maternity coverage. I later found out that in my state, a woman on a plan alone without a spouse or a child is not eligible for maternity coverage until after she has a baby. (Um, what?!?!?)

Anyway, that is all background info, basically, we had to find a way to pay for prenatal care, ultrasounds, lab work, labor & delivery, hospital costs, etc. without maternity coverage. Here’s how we did it:

1 - We used a nurse-midwife rather than an OB-gyn
My nurse-midwife works in a practice with 3 other nurse-midwives & 2 OB’s. If there was an emergency or a problem during labor or delivery, an OB was always available to help. This is a personal preference for a woman & definitely depends upon your specific circumstances. High risk pregnancies or women who already know they will want scheduled c-sections would definitely want an OB from the get-go. But either way, a nurse-midwife is cheaper. This is not why I chose a nurse-midwife, but it was an added bonus when I found out that I had no maternity coverage.

2 - Everyone offers HUGE discounts
From the doctor delivering your baby to the labs to the hospitals, everyone offers at least 40% off if you have no maternity coverage. Our hospital gave us 50% off & some of our labs ended up being 60% off. There are also options based on your income that you can apply for. I have a friend whose hospital bills were free because of her income status.

3 - Repayment plans charge no interest
I’m not sure if this is true everywhere or just in my area, but all the repayment options for all our bills were offered with no added interest. We could have paid them off over the coming year if we wanted. We ended up paying most things off within 3 months of her birth, but that was because I got a little help from family when we finally told them what we were dealing with.

4 - Everything costs extra money
This was one thing I wasn’t completely aware of. I mean, obviously you would expect everything costs extra money, but we didn’t realize how MUCH until we received our bills. I did not use an IV or an epidural or any medication at all during my labor, so that was all an added bonus. An epidural at my local hospital has a starting price of $800. I had to get a shot after my daughter was born that cost $450. Sending your baby to the nursery during the night while you are sleeping costs $700 PER NIGHT. (Again, these are all our charges. Check with your hospital for amounts where you are.) Anything that you don’t want to pay for, you can opt out of (if medically safe & healthy). Keep the baby in the room with you at night, try to go unmedicated during labor. All of these are ways you can save money, but obviously you need to weigh your cost-benefit analysis and decide what is worth it to you. For a lot of women, the $800+ for an epidural is a small price to pay for the comfort & benefit of a more painless delivery. I would just check in advance about any costs you are questioning.

5 - Additional insurance
This is something that I didn’t actually have, but I know others who did and it can help. Additional insurance providers like Aflac will many times have short-term care sort of plans where 2 days in a hospital for any reason can qualify you for a specific payout. Check with these insurance providers if you have that insurance.

6 - Medical Card
This is another thing we did not qualify for due to income, but I have several friends who have had the benefit of using a medical card during their care. If you are a lower-income or no-income family & qualify for this, you & your baby can have coverage throughout pregnancy & for a certain amount of time post-partum. Check with your local Health Department or Community Action to find out how to apply for a medical card.

For other pregnancy tips, try Top 10 Pregnancy Tips


TV's Take said...

Insightful post! Following you from Follow Me Back Tuesdays. Come follow me at http://tvstake.blogspot.com

Mommy Vandy said...

Thanks for following! I'm now following you as well! Cute blog by the way. :-)

~J said...

Hi Love! Here to return your follow & thank you for linking up to FMBT!

Our healthcare system really makes me angry....REALLY angry!

I'm shocked at how yall did it without insurance..but kudos to you!

Nichol said...

COming over to say hi as I'm blog hopping around to find new blogs today. I'm your newest follower! Cute blog. This was a great post.

♥Yaya's Mommy ♥ said...

HI I am your newest follower from Follow Me Back Tuesday. Thank you for linking up.
Have a great Tuesday.
Best wishes,

adriel, from the mommyhood memos said...

good post chelsea. can't believe how HOT a topic health care is in america at the moment. if only americans could look from the outside in like the rest of the world and see how absurd it is that we don't take better care of our people through medical care and cover. in australia i didn't have one out-of-pocket expense to have our son, from the first prenatal appointment right through to postnatal HOME visits by my midwife and doctors office visits. most developed countries understand that this is vital to the overall well being and prosperity of their nations. maybe i'm getting a little political here, but i'm just sayin...... taking care of people should be a top priority for anyone (especially those that know better!) and the health care system shouldn't be exempt from that! glad you found some ways to save and cut back... and that your family was able to help. hopefully big companies like your insurance company will be held accountable for things like what they did to you - totally dishonest by subtle deception. makes me nauseous! (ok, not trying to start a rant here... i just get passionate about people being taken care of!) good on ya for staying neutral but offering some solutions in the midst of BIG problem. xx

Posh Play said...

Thank you for finding me and following! I am following you too now. :) Great post!

Emily said...

Following you back from Miss Emily's Closet.

Teresa @ ♥ TOO MANY HEARTBEATS ♥ said...

Hi, I'm stopping by from SITS! I wanted to say hi and share some comment love.

I worked in Heathcare for almost 20 years (Paramedic in the field, hospital and doctors office) and have never heard of such a thing! How horrible that they did not tell you that you did not have maternity coverage when you signed up! It seems like there should be some kind of recourse. UGH! This kind of junk makes me so MAD!

I'm so glad you worked things out as well as you did. You were a very, very smart advocate for yourself and your baby. You should be very proud of yourself. And thank you for writing this post to make others aware. I'm sure it will be a huge blessing to others.

I love your blog and I will definitely be back to read more again soon! Hope you have a great night!


Teresa <><

Teresa @ ♥ TOO MANY HEARTBEATS ♥ said...

Oh, and I am following, too! I'd love for you to stop by my blog if you get a second.


Teresa <><

♥ Too Many Heartbeats ♥

esther said...

following back!


SmartShopaholic said...

Enlightening post. I'm following you back. :)

The Planet Pink said...

Great post with lots of good information! I gave you a blog award today - check it out at http://www.theplanetpink.blogspot.com

Chickenista said...

Thanks for the follow, follow u too now.

Yea, babies can cost a butt load. Even with health insurance. We have it through work, but still. Its $480/monthly straight out of your pay. Then our co-payments for the last baby way about $3000. Give or take. It was a lot. And I only stayed over night!! Four kids and it wasn't until our last I paid attention.

RyHeAnNe said...

Thanks for the follow, following you back!

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

Oh wow. Thrilled and delighted to be following you back. My brother and sister-in-law had their first baby sans insurance and it cost them about 5 grand. They did a lot of research too and asked around as you did. Having had 3 babies I would take out a second on my house if I had to in order to get that epidural so you are a rockstar! :) It's important for this info to get out there so thanks for sharing...

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner?

Alice said...

I HAD health insurance, and I was still shocked at how much we paid out of pocket for our medical expenses even with no OB, no epidural, no time in the nursery, etc. It's outrageous.

Brandy said...

Very insightful post. I have insurance for this but always get the bill to review just what they are charging us. I had a heart attack when they charged $10 for a tylenol and for a prenatal vitamin. BRING YOUR OWN! Thanks for the follow and I am now following back form Follow Back Tuesday.


Lynn said...

What an informative post! Thank you for sharing. I am completely disgusted with our healthcare system and lack of coverage for well being. In other countries it costs nothing to receive care at a hospital. If you have not seen the moving Sicko, I certainly would recommend it. I had to watch it during one of my classes this past semester and was shocked by what I saw going on here in our own country.

I am following you back from FMBT!


Mama Hen said...

Excellent post! It is good to share your experience and to give tips to others!It really is amazing how much we all still have to pay out of pocket! Have a great day!

Mama Hen

Mama Smors said...

wow~ cameron, first i am sad that you were unaware of your plan and the insurance company seemed to have "tricked" you. they are very confusing and the lingo is so different that unless you specialize in insurance it is hard to know what you are getting.

second... $700 a night for the baby to stay in the nursery!!! that is CRAZY!!! who would have ever known???

third, cheers to you for doing all this research!

Time4Mommy said...

We did the same things as you. I did get the epidural which was $1500 but they negotiated to $800 cash. My $12000 hospital bill was reduced to $6000 when I offered cash.

Nolie said...

OH MY! You have me speechless here. So many things we take for granted up here in Canada while we complain about how crappy our hospitals are. I never even though how much it could have cost me to have my son if I were to live somewhere else.

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