Coverage Options During Pregnancy
Pregnant Without Health Insurance?
You are in a tough spot if you are pregnant and without medical insurance and/or short term disability coverage. Pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition by medical carriers. Finding private coverage while expecting a baby will be very difficult.
Don't despair. There are options for expectant women who need medical coverage, want to apply for maternity disability benefits, or need to cut costs. There are a variety of government insurance and tax savings programs that can help. Know the laws designed to help women in your circumstances. Get educated on your rights.
Help is coming soon from the Affordable Care Act, but it won't arrive until January of 2014. The new law requires that insurers cover any pre-existing condition, and that all health plans cover "essential health benefits".
Medicaid for Pregnant Women
Medicaid is a state and federal program that pays for some health services for certain low-income pregnant women, and children. Each state has differing income limits, and guidelines for who qualifies. The average income limit is around $30,000 per year.
Getting accepted by Medicaid is your hardest step. Call the human resources department or social services in your county, and explain that you are calling for a Medicaid for pregnant women application.
Once qualified you should then find a doctor who accepts Medicaid patients. Women are covered for all care related to the pregnancy, delivery and any complications that may occur while expectant and up to 60 days postpartum.
State High Risk Pools
Women who are expecting have a new option with passage of the health care reform act. If your income exceeds the federal guidelines for Medicaid, then high risk insurance pools might provide the coverage you need.
Beginning September 23, 2010 each state must set up a high risk health insurance pool for people with pre existing health conditions. Pregnancy is considered a pre existing health condition and most private insurers will not issue coverage for you while expecting.
In order to qualify you must show that you have a pre existing condition, that you have been uninsured for at least six months, and that you are in the country legally. At minimum, you will be able to get coverage during the most important time: the third trimester, and during delivery.
Charity Care for Pregnant Women
You may also consider investigating charity care. Many states mandate that hospital systems provide treatment for people who need care. Like Medicaid the amount of healthcare your receive during while carrying your baby may vary based upon your income. Contact your local hospital systems for more information about program benefits and costs.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Women Infants and Children (WIC) is a federally funded program which provides states with money to assist certain low-income women who are expecting, along with infants and children who might have nutritional needs. You may be able to get assistance and aid to purchase supplemental foods, get referrals to health care professional, plus nutrition education.
Contact your local state or county agency to set up an appointment with a WIC counselor. These government programs have been established to help women in difficult circumstances. Make your resource go further to support your health, and the welfare of your child.
Discount Medical Plans
Medical discount plans are another alternative. They will provide discounts at your doctor, specialists, and for lab work. They also have a hospital advocacy program that may work with your hospital to negotiate the bill down for you.
Consider these programs as coupons that may save thousands of dollars.
Alternative Medical Treatment
If you are having a normal, uncomplicated experience you may want to consider using a birthing center rather than going the traditional OB/GYN and hospital route. Your costs will be much lower. You will be treated by experienced midwives for your prenatal appointments, childbirth classes, the birth, and postnatal care. Most centers are located near hospitals in case one is needed.