Having a baby is a milestone in the life of any family, but it can be as stressful as it is exciting unless proper insurance coverage is in place. The cost of medical care for a normal pregnancy and delivery averages around $10,000 in some areas. Complications that require the attention of a specialist may double or triple that figure. Adequate maternity coverage can mean a lot less worry during the months before a birth.
Policies with maternity coverage pay for most if not all expenses related to pre-natal checkups, labor and delivery and care after the child is born. Each plan offers different coverage amounts with deductible and co-payment options and the possibility of different rates for in- and out-of-network providers.
Several important features should be researched when looking into maternity coverage:
1. Office Visits–Some insurance plans treat OB and GYN visits differently than other doctor visits. It is important to find out the co-pay percentage since such visits start out monthly then become bi-weekly and finally weekly late in pregnancy.
2. Ultrasound–Many obstetricians refer their patients to clinics for ultrasound. Good maternity coverage should pay for the visit, the actual ultrasound and the technician who will interpret it.
3. Hospital stay–Barring home birth, coverage for time in hospital will be required. Consumers should ask whether the policy covers extended stays in case of complications, and whether it pays the full cost of a private room if a shared room is available. Every detail of hospital coverage should be scrutinized.
4. Midwife/Doula–If a home birth is planned, the policy selected should cover the cost of a midwife or doula.
5. NICU–Use of a neonatal intensive care unit is not normally considered maternity coverage, but prospective parents should still ask about it. For the first few days of life, a newborn is covered under its mother’s insurance plan. It is important to find out about coverage if the child needs NICU care. Everyone hopes for the best, but it is wise to make sure the insurance will pay if the worst happens.
When a happy, healthy newborn comes home, the expenses are by no means over. Well-baby checks during the first year check a child’s growth and development, and there will also be vaccinations and sick visits. Comprehensive health insurance for the baby will ensure it gets the proper care without causing too great a drain on the family finances.
Prospective parents should have a conversation with their insurance agent as soon as they begin to plan for a pregnancy to make sure maternity and new baby coverage is adequate.