So who's going to pay for the hospital bills?
- Are you covered?
- If you're not quite sure
- If you're NOT covered
Being an American is great for lots of reasons, but one reason it's not so great, especially for pregnant women, is the difficult fact that reliable and affordable health insurance “An estimated 13% (or nearly 2 million) of women in the U.S. go through their pregnancies uninsured”is not guaranteed or easily accessible. For this fact alone, an estimated 13% (or nearly 2 million) of women in the U.S. go through their pregnancies uninsured, which basically means they receive substandard and/or little to no health care during their pregnancy—-risking both their health and the health of their unborn child.
Despite most pregnant women being young and healthy, it is still an absolute necessity that these women receive some form of prenatal health care as well as a professional, sanitary, and safe place for giving birth. If you're pregnant and don't know if you're covered, it's critical that you take the time to find out what—-if any, sort of coverage you currently have and how to apply for health insurance if you're not.
Are you covered?
- If you're married, find out if your spouse has a job with a health plan that covers pregnancy. Unfortunately, if you've been living with your boyfriend (even longer than some marriages last), it's pretty unlikely that his coverage will extend to you unless you get married.
- If you're in good contact with your parents, find out if they have a health plan that extends to cover their children and pregnancy. There are several health care providers that now extend to children up to the age of 23 (and even 25 for a few).
- If you have a full time job, you need to find out whether your job provides a health care plan that will cover you throughout your pregnancy.
If you're not quite sure about your coverage
It may be unclear what your health care plan status is if you, your spouse, or your parents are in the middle of switching jobs and group health plans:
- Check out your HIPAA rights, this is a federal law to protect you from having your pregnancy treated as a “pre-existing condition” by your new job’s health care plan. There are plenty of nasty little loopholes and exceptions, so make sure you educate yourself regarding your specific situation prior to switching health plans. For online help regarding your HIPAA rights go to: http://cms.hhs.gov/hipaa/online/default.asp.
- Look into your COBRA options (short for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) from the previous job, which pertains to a Federal law passed in 1985 to protect employees who lose their jobs. This act is designed to ensure health care coverage while you're between jobs. Note: COBRA is not free-- you will purchase coverage from your previous employer. For more information on COBRA go to: http://info.insure.com/health/cobra.html.
If you're NOT covered
Choosing the right plan is essential to ensuring your specific prenatal and pregnancy needs are met. The basic critical points to consider when deciding are:
- Your budget
- The provider’s reputation
- Their services and coverage
- Your personal needs (e.g. convenient location, Spanish-speaking doctors etc.)
In order to assist you in your search for the best health care coverage, we’ve included some links to useful resources which provide in-depth information, questionnaires, and check lists which allow you to better plan and choose in accordance with your specific needs.
WebMD covers virtually all possible issues you might have to consider in this full-length article about choosing the best health care provider:
A non-profit site that conveniently provides access to all fifty states health insurance consumer guides:
A dedicated database that allows you to compare rates from multiple insurance providers:
Check out our recommended health care plans:
We've done the research for you and chosen the following three companies for their national reputation and affordable options!
- Insure Me
is the free referral service to find the right health insurance, meaning it will provide you with free health insurance quotes based on your zip code.
- Good Health Worldwide
provides first class medical expenses products for expatriates and local nationals.
- Health Insurance Savings
a specialist for affordable health insurance for individuals and families.
WHAT IF you can't afford an individual health care plan?
If you take the time to do a little research, there is no reason why you and your baby can't be given decent health care during your pregnancy. The following programs are available to assist low-income pregnancies and families with the basic health care needs associated with pregnancy (as well as other health problems).
- MEDICAID (low income individuals and families can apply for this state-run federally funded low cost government health insurance plan). To locate an office near you go to: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
- WIC (Woman, Infants, and Children) is a federal agency designed to protect the health of low-income women, infants, and children (under the age of 5). The organization provides nutritious foods and vital information on healthy eating and health care referrals. For further information check out: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/
- Smart Health Care Solutions is a relatively affordable alternative to more pricey individual health care options on the market. The good news: all pre-existing conditions are accepted. Smart Health Care Solutions claims to be committed to providing members with access to healthcare providers at reduced rates that are both nationwide and affordable regardless of any pre-existing health conditions. For further information, call 1-800-618-0607.
- MaternityCard is a discount health program that lowers your overall medical costs by saving up to 60% on doctor's visits, sonograms, blood tests, hospital stays, and more. Although MaternityCard is not insurance, it does work with the National Preferred Provider Maternity Network and can provide you with a comprehensive maternity plan at a low monthly fee even if you're already pregnant! For more information call (866) 226-8815.
- AmeriPlan is currently available in all states except Alaska and can save you up to 50% and more on your health care services during your pregnancy. Benefits include physician, hospital, and ancillary services (i.e. lab work, tests, x-rays). Because, AmeriPlan is not insurance, nearly all pre-existing conditions including pregnancy are accepted. Finally, there are no deductibles, no waiting period, no claim forms and no annual limits. For more information on this program check out: http://www.ameriplanusa.com
- The Journal of American Medicine and Health Care is a Health Benefits program which now helps over 50 million uninsured and underinsured Americans. Through a cooperative alliance with MedLife Plus, The Journal, a non-profit organization, is able to help individuals substantially reduce the amount they pay for routine medical care, hospital stays and prescription drugs. For further info check out: http://healthcare.thejournaloffer.org
- Other individual state options: Depending on the state you live in, you may have access to other sorts of financial medical assistance (California and New York are reputed for their in-state assistance to lower-income pregnant women). You just have to check with your local department of health at: Health Departments by State to see what your specific state options are.