Baby Birthing Blues

No Maternity Coverage

We have a surprise baby and no maternity coverage on our insurance. We searched forever and an agent told me that companies wouldn't even sell to self-employed people anymore. I am a SAHM and consider myself frugal, but I am very concerned about how we will pay for birth in a hospital My first child cost around $8K, but they still had coverage then so she only cost $10.
Any suggestions?
Mom-to-Be in Texas

State Assistance

Get to your local Social Services Department now and apply for Medicaid. You may think you won't qualify but the fact is that rules are very different for pregnant women. In most states pregnant women with no insurance (or no maternity coverage) are automatically eligible for Medicaid for the duration of the pregnancy and until their 6-week checkup. The only time you're not is if you're in a pretty high tax bracket. The government has (finally) started to realize the savings they receive in the long run by ensuring that women get prenatal care, rather than having someone do without care and deliver a pre-term baby or a baby with unexpected medical problems. So call your local DSS immediately and apply. And don't think of this as applying for "charity" or "welfare". Your taxes pay for these programs, and you are doing this for the sake of your baby. So while you can expect some red tape and a few hassles, hang in there!

Check on Discounts

Contact all the parties who will be involved in the delivery of your child -- hospital, doctor, anesthesiologist, etc. Tell them you are a self-pay delivery and most will work with you on the cost. I work for an anesthesiologist and we will give women in your situation a discounted flat fee for the epidural rather than basing it on time, which is the normal rule for an epidural. Most practices will give you an even greater discount if you can pay up front (monthly payments or one lump payment), because they don't have to bill you and worry about collection. Please talk with all the people involved and I think you'll be surprised how willing they are to work with you.

Check All Available Resources

Contact your State health department now. They can help guide you to help for having a baby without insurance. Also, talk to the doctor that you go to and explain the situation. Tell them that you are not comfortable having a baby at home but you cannot afford to pay high hospital bills. In this day and age, be very careful if you decide to do this since it can be very risky for you and your baby. Sometimes, the doctor will at least waive their fee. Also check out a crisis pregnancy center. They are not just for unwed mothers. They are also for families in your situation. Contact your church. Let them know what is happening and if they can direct you to someone whom can help you. Please remember that nothing is worth your and your baby's health. Get good medical care.

A Home Birth

If it is something that you will consider - how about a midwife and home birth? They are very safe and we went through a referral from a friend. We met other parents there and met midwife apprentices. We were in Texas which has fairly strict laws governing midwives. The two partners were both RNs, one with a master's in nursing and the other with many, many years of experience. One of them was in attendance at all births, along with other midwives. Minimum of two present, usually 3 or more. They worked hand in hand with a high risk OB/GYN who was terrific also and very qualified.

It certainly sounds scary at first, but face it, hospital births, for the most part, are very much a thing of the last 75 years. It was more uncommon to have a hospital birth and usually it was due to something drastic happening. There is a multitude of websites and books available for information. I would heartily endorse tracking the information down and educating yourself thoroughly before making a decision. Many hospitals these days send you home after 24 hours anyway (or less) and it seems to me that it's easier to do it at home and just stay there and not have to be transported (in labor) to the hospital, then home again (just after giving birth). It's certainly worth looking in to.

Birthing Centers

I was in a very similar situation about 3 years ago. I called every hospital in town, plus all the surrounding towns to get prices. I was reduced to tears several times. Then I found a birthing center in the town next to me and went on a tour. It was beautiful, the people were kind and loving, and they teach expecting moms how to cope with delivery. It cost much less to deliver my daughter there, and I wouldn't go anywhere else ever again. I had one nurse who stayed with me throughout the entire delivery, I was allowed to have my music, and I was able to opt for a water birth. I was relaxed, comfortable, and gave birth to my 8-lb. 15 1/2-oz daughter without any pain medication. I highly recommend you check into birthing centers in your area. They might be the ticket you have been looking for; it certainly was for me.

Taking Responsible Action

First, don't panic. You have a brand new bundle to look forward to and should be enjoying! Go to your doctor and explain the situation. If he can not lower his fee, then ask for a referral. Next, go to the hospital. Sit with the administrator or at least have the administrator appoint someone directly to your case. All hospitals have "ER" funds for people that need care and can not afford the extra fees. Then go to the baby's doctor and explain the same thing. Be prepared in advance on how much you will be able to "spend" and start your good faith payments ASAP!

My daughter was married Oct, 2000 and sent in her enrollment for his insurance but somehow she was never added. Her fault not to follow up but she was caught just the same. She explained her situation and everyone was more than happy to reduce fees, take payments and even donate! Stepping up to the plate is the key!

The Option of a Midwife

I recently found myself in a similar situation as a stay-at-home mom with my second child due in January. Although I have medical insurance, it has a separate $5,000 maternity deductible, so will really only come into play if there are complications. I had already been considering a home birth, so when I researched the costs, I was happy to find that they were considerably less than a hospital birth. Even with some unexpected costs, this is a lot easier bill to handle than what can often be run up going through a doctor and hospital.

To make things even better, my midwife takes payments during the whole pregnancy and we are working on a barter for some of her costs. I know the costs vary by region, but maybe this would be something your readers might want to look into. Research your options. Even to have a midwife instead of a doctor and still have the birth at a hospital (if available in your state) is bound to be cheaper.

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