The birth of a child is expensive. Without insurance, an uncomplicated birth can cost between $9,000 and $25,000, as of 2008. If there are additional complications, the costs can rise much higher. If you’re pregnant, health insurance is a must–it will take care of the bulk of these costs in most cases. However, you still have options if you are pregnant without health insurance.
Your health insurance plan helps you to pay for the cost of your birth. While you might be able to cover the cost of an uncomplicated birth, if you don’t have insurance when there is a problem, the cost of the health care could bring crippling debt. For example, if your were to have a premature baby, the costs can easily reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In the best-case scenario, you would have health insurance before becoming pregnant, either as part of a group policy from your employer or as an individual plan. If you don’t have insurance, you may be able to get an individual policy, though many have waiting periods before covering pregnancy-related costs. Most states offer some form of state-funded health insurance for low-income pregnant women through Medicaid.
Coverage and Cost
Coverage of pregnancy and birth varies widely between insurance plans. In most cases, the insurance will cover all the costs of an average pregnancy, aside from your hospital deductible, which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. You may be required to pay your normal co-pay charges for your doctor visits. If you require extensive care based on complications, your insurance may not cover all the costs, though it will often cover a portion of them.
Through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, insurance companies cannot treat pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, provided you have no lapse in insurance coverage. If you did not have insurance, there is typically a waiting period during which your insurance will not cover a pregnancy. This may be short enough to allow you to pay only the prenatal charges, while the insurance pays for the actual birth, but most waiting periods are at least nine months.
If you did not have insurance when you became pregnant, but don’t qualify for low-income health insurance, you still have some options. There are often women’s health centers that offer low-cost health care for women. You may also be able to find low-cost care through Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services, both of which help women of all faiths. Another option that may be possible is to consider a home birth with a certified midwife. These options will likely cost you less than $10,000.
- baby image by Fabio Barni from Fotolia.com