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.