Prenatal care is essential to ensure your health and the health of your baby. Obtaining prenatal care can be challenging without medical insurance. Doctor’s visits can be costly, especially with all the necessary and frequent visits your pregnancy requires. If you find yourself in a similar situation–pregnant and without insurance-you do have some options. The health of you and your baby is ultimately the most important consideration. A lack of insurance should not impair health, growth, or happiness.
Alongside the lack of insurance, many women find themselves under-insured when it comes to pregnancy. Just like not being insured, being under-insured can be detrimental, too. The under-insured expectant mother is less likely to regularly visit the doctor than a woman with full insurance coverage.
Here are some of the most common ways uninsured or under-insured expectant mothers get the care they need throughout their pregnancy:
Medicaid and State Assistance Programs. If you qualify for Medicaid (Medi-Cal, if you are a California resident), this is a great medical resource for lower income families. The restrictions differ by each state, but the general rule is if your annual income is less than $30,000, you qualify. Keep in mind that you should double check with your local or state health department to confirm eligibility. One of the great things about state run programs is that they will accept women who are already pregnant, unlike insurance companies who sometimes consider it a preexisting condition.
Clinics. Many clinics can help women find free, low cost, or lower cost maternity medical care for those without appropriate and relevant insurance. While some services aren’t free, they are generally lower-cost than going to a doctor’s office or to the hospital sans insurance.
Health Care Discount Programs. There are quite a few pregnancy discount programs to choose from. These programs can save you upwards of 50% off of checkups, lab work, sonograms, and even off your hospital stay. All you have to do is pay a low monthly fee and you’re set. This is a great alternative for those expectant mothers who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
Birthing Centers. This is a great alternative to giving birth in a hospital setting. Not only is it sometimes a preferred birthing environment, it can generally save you a couple thousand off of medical expenses. Keep in mind that the normal cost for labor and delivery is usually $6,000-$8,000. And that extra few thousand out-of-pocket dollars can go towards diapers, formula, and baby wipes.
Payment Plans. Generally, hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices offer some sort of payment plan for those who can’t pay the entire bill upfront. Before you begin your medical care, call ahead of time to make sure they are a little more lenient and offer payment plans.
While being pregnant without medical coverage can be a scary situation, there are people and companies who can and want to help you. You have no need to be embarrassed with your circumstances, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do what you can to ensure your health and the health of your new addition. It is something you’ll never regret.