Having a baby is a blessing, but many people feel uneasy about the financial aspect of it. But there are options for you if you don’t have health insurance. The government is a great source for help with the cost of having your baby. They can assist with hospital bills and fees and also provide food and medications once your baby is home.
If you don’t have pregnancy health insurance, you’re not alone. In 2009 over 48 million Americans were without health insurance of any kind—that’s about 16% of the population, and by some estimates the number was as high as 18% by 2013. That number is somewhat lower now, thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (popularly known as “Obamacare”), but many are still uninsured, and many of those who are insured are under-insured.
In this article, we will discuss some of your pregnancy health insurance options.
Medicaid is a state run program that is federally funded. Medicaid provides medical assistance for low-income families and individuals. Many states have recently expanded their Medicaid programs, so even if you have not qualified for Medicaid in the past, it may be worthwhile for you to look into it again.
Depending on what state you live in, you may find that there are other pregnancy health insurance programs, such as Medi-Cal (which is available in California). Many cities and counties have their own programs for low-income people, such as the District of Columbia’s DC Healthcare Alliance, which serves low-income residents of Washington DC, provided they seek healthcare services within the District. You can check with your local department of health for information on local programs that may further assist you.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
If your income is too high to allow you to qualify for Medicaid, your children may still qualify for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is a federal program that provides states with matching funds in order to provide health insurance for children and pregnant women. Its purpose is to serve families that may earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, and while its primary focus is on children, pregnant women may also be covered.
The benefits provided by CHIP vary from one state to another, but CHIP programs in all states cover:
- Routine check-up visits
- Routine appointments
- Dental care
- Vision care
- Necessary hospital care
- Lab services
- Emergency room visits
Many of the most important service covered by CHIP are free of charge, but there may be a co-payment on some other services. These costs vary by state, but you cannot be required in any state to pay more than 5 percent of your family’s annual income.
To find out whether you and your children qualify for CHIP, call (877) 543-7669.
WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) is a federal program that serves to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children under the age of five. WIC provides nutritious foods, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care. As of this writing, WIC serves nearly 53 percent of all US-born infants. In order to be eligible, a family’s income must be below 185 percent of the poverty line, as defined by the federal government.
What the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Means for Your Pregnancy
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has changed the healthcare marketplace. Consumers now enjoy many rights—and a few responsibilities—they did not have before.
Maternity and childbirth services are considered an essential health benefit. This means that, under the new law, insurers are required to cover them, even if you became pregnant before the effective start date of your insurance coverage. There are some exceptions to this rule; some individual plans—the type of plan you purchase yourself, rather than through an employer—have been grandfathered in.
If you have an individual insurance plan, you should check with your insurance company to find out whether your pregnancy and childbirth expenses will be covered. Grandfathered plans are also not required to honor your choice of doctor, and may not even have to cover emergency room care.
The Individual Mandate
It is important to be aware of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. This is a requirement for almost every American to obtain some form of health insurance. The purpose of the mandate is to make it possible for insurers to bear the cost of a host of new requirements. Because they are no longer allowed to refuse to cover existing conditions (like your pregnancy), it is necessary for all Americans to participate in the insurance pool, so that costs can be covered by payments made by healthy people who may not need much care.
How to Take Advantage of the Affordable Care Act
The aim of the Affordable Care Act is to put healthcare within the reach of all Americans. Healthcare insurance exchanges now exist to assist consumers, and subsidies are available from the federal government to enable lower-income people to insure themselves and their families—and comply with the law themselves. For more information, or to sign up for healthcare, visit https://www.healthcare.gov.