Understanding Maternity Health Insurance
Are you considering starting a family, or perhaps growing one that you have already begun? Do not make the mistake of assuming that your current health insurance covers all necessary medical care related to having a child. Many insurers require you to purchase specific maternity insurance coverage, in addition to your ordinary health insurance, to cover these costs. Keep in mind as well, if you are considering purchasing maternity insurance, that not all companies will insure a woman who is already pregnant; in fact, many require the maternity policy to have been purchased at least six months before she became pregnant.
To ensure the safety of both mother and child throughout the pregnancy and after the birth, both prenatal and post-natal care are necessary. Specialized care should begin as soon as pregnancy has been discovered. The total duration of this prenatal and post-natal care is usually about 12 months: nine for prenatal care before the birth and three for post-natal care for both the mother and the new baby after the birth. As you can probably imagine, this can add up to quite a few doctors' appointments costing a whole lot of cash -- not even including the cost of the actual delivery (which can be $10,000 or more depending on the individual circumstances). So, if you are thinking about expanding your family, unless you happen to be independently wealthy, maternity insurance is almost always a must!
If you are not already pregnant, but are considering becoming so, the first question you should ask yourself is, "Do I have health insurance?" If so, it is essential that you determine whether your health insurance coverage automatically covers maternity care. Any complications with the birth may create a need for specialized care for the mother, the child or both; determine in advance how this would be handled by your insurance company as well.
If your existing policy does not automatically include maternity coverage (as is the case with many policies today) or if you do not yet have health insurance at all, planning for a child is the perfect reason to add it. Most insurance companies that do not automatically include maternity care will allow you to add it to your existing health insurance plan for an additional premium. If you are responsible for buying your own health insurance, you can find many affordable and competitive options online, both for ordinary health insurance and for maternity coverage.
When should you consider adding maternity insurance? Ideally, the answer is "well before you actually get pregnant." If you are thinking about starting or growing your family, now is the time to purchase maternity insurance. The most common mistake made by individuals covered by small company and individual insurance plans is assuming that their plan will automatically cover pregnancy and any and all services needed to successfully complete it. This is frequently not true. Although some time in the near future, some states may pass laws requiring maternity care to be included in health insurance, it is not required at this time.
You might be at a slight disadvantage if you are already pregnant and uninsured. Some insurance companies, when considering an applicant, consider a pregnant woman as having a preexisting medical condition. Further, if you try adding maternity insurance to a preexisting policy after the pregnancy has begun, you might face a fairly steep increase in your monthly premium. Although you can still add maternity coverage in most cases, you will generally pay significantly less for it if you add it well before your actual pregnancy.
In most cases, you will be far better prepared financially for your pregnancy with maternity insurance than without it. After all, quite a few unforeseen complications can arise before, during and after the birth of a child, many of which could require special treatment that could become exorbitantly expensive without insurance. For example, complications during birth can require the mother, child or both to be hospitalized for longer than expected, and intensive care costs for a child who is born early can run tens of thousands of dollars. A sudden accumulation of unexpected pregnancy-related medical bills can easily bankrupt a family that is not prepared for them.
To best protect the physical and financial well-being of the mother, the child, and the family as a whole, acquiring maternity insurance is a smart choice. After it is in place, you will be able to focus on the new addition to the family, rather than the bills that will follow.