Are you pregnant and uninsured or know anyone who is? Do you know your options?
I was in this situation in 2012 and had no clue what my options were. Backstory: After working abroad for a year, I returned to the U.S. with a bebe on board. Truth be told, this kiddo wasn’t planned but in hindsight turned out to be one of the best things that has happened to me!
How was I going to pay for this kid to be born? I was unemployed — having just completed a 1-year teaching contract in South Korea — and was having a heck of a time getting hired. I did find full-time work very late in my pregnancy, but unfortunately I didn’t qualify for any maternity “benefits” because I was too close to my due date. At that time coverage varied by employer and state, and maternity benefits wouldn’t have kicked in until I’d had insurance coverage for 6 months. Additionally, even if I had signed on for insurance with that particular employer, I was only making minimum wage. My out-of-pocket costs would have been far more than I was making!
So the quest to find maternity insurance was born. No pun intended. And what was the result?
There is no such thing as maternity insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, you can no longer be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition (pregnancy) and prenatal benefits have increased. But you must have a health insurance plan. What if you can’t afford health insurance, even under the ACA? By the way, you can visit Health Sherpa to compare insurance rates in your area. I frequently send folks to this site, since you aren’t required to input sensitive personal information that has been compromised under the health care exchange website. This is for plan pricing purposes only but you will find links to the healthcare exchange or for contacting insurance companies directly to purchase.
If you are uninsured at the time you become pregnant, and can’t afford insurance (even under the ACA) your options are:
- Pay out-of-pocket: You may attempt to negotiate your bills with your physicians and doctors but a majority of projected expenses must be pre-paid (or at least it was in my case). You can also hire a company to negotiate for you.
- Enroll in Medicaid: You must provide all your financial information, including that of your entire household, and the application may take up 2 months.
Option #1 is how I stumbled upon AmeriPlan while browsing on the American Pregnancy Association website. Once you are a member of their healthcare program, an advocate will be assigned to you to help negotiate your bills based on what you are able to pay once your tab has exceeded $2500. I think we can all agree that’s an easy number to exceed. Of course, you must be a member of AmeriPlan’s healthcare program ($49.95/month) in order to get the advocacy, but if you don’t have insurance this is a feasible option. Do your research – I’m sure there may be other advocacy programs out there.
Option #2 is eventually how I ended up paying for my son’s birth. Obviously, this was not the most desirable option and I wasn’t even sure I would qualify. If you meet the financial requirements, you may also qualify for WIC or food stamps. The Colorado company that managed my enrollment application has been a bit problematic (another post altogether) and I’ve been unable to get out of the system, even though I now exceed the income requirements. I’m really curious to see what happens when I file my taxes this year. I’m sure another blog post will be forthcoming on that topic!
Do you need help figuring out how to pay for maternity costs? I’d love to help. Message me at LLevaas@ameriplan.net.