Excitement over a pregnancy can easily turn into worry and anxiety if a woman has no health insurance coverage. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was created to keep pregnant women from being discriminated against regarding health insurance. Unfortunately, this act does not apply to companies with less than 15 employees or individual health policies. Even if a woman has health insurance, pregnancy may not be covered unless a rider to the policy is purchased. These riders are expensive, have limited coverage and usually have waiting periods from six months to more than a year. A report by the National Women's Law Center in 2009 showed that only 13% of 3,600 national policies covered pregnancy. Even with these difficulties there are options for pregnant women who are without health insurance.
The average cost for a normal pregnancy, which includes prenatal and post partum care, can be anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 so it is essential to find some type of health insurance. For women considered low-income there are State programs such as Medicaid and WIC that can help with medical care and nutrition. There is also a federal program called CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program). These programs are run by the Department of Health (DHS) and even if you don't qualify for Medicaid, there may be other programs available. DHS will be able to give you helpful information.
Another option is a Health Care Discount Program. This isn't health insurance so there is no waiting period, deductible, coinsurance or pre-existing clause. Some discounts can be up to 50%. You can also talk to your doctor or clinic about possible discounts they may give you, such as a cash discount or they may be able to set up a payment plan. Also, there are some clinics that provide medical services on a sliding scale which goes according to your income. These options will cut your overall pregnancy costs.
Many hospitals have their own maternity plans for women who are uninsured. These plans include prenatal care, ultrasounds, labs, hospital and delivery costs and post partum care for a flat fee. The average cost is about $2,500. The cost may be a little higher if you have a c-section. If the hospital does not have their own maternity plan, they can set up a monthly payment plan for you.
Birthing centers are available for women who do not have high risk pregnancies. These centers are staffed by midwives who have years of experience delivering babies. The centers offer package rates which include prenatal and postpartum care, birthing classes and the delivery. There is a more personal and homey feel at a birthing center and they are usually located near a hospital, in case of an emergency.
There are many options out there to take advantage of. Compare all of the options and benefits available to you before making a decision. This will help you find the best plan that fits your specific needs.