Prenatal care is essential to ensure your and your baby's health. But some women don't have medical insurance, and we all know how expensive doctors' visits can be--especially when regular visits are necessary as the pregnancy progresses. 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. A lack of insurance should not impair health, growth, nor happiness.
Alongside the lack of insurance, many women find themselves underinsured when it comes to pregnancy. Just like not being insured, being underinsured can be detrimental because the expectant mother is less likely to regularly visit the doctor than with full insurance coverage.
Here are some of the most common ways uninsured or underinsured 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 already pregnant women, unlike insurance companies who sometimes consider it a pre-existing condition.
Clinics: Many clinics can help you 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 your doctor's office or to the hospital sans insurance.
Health Care Discount Programs: There are quite a few pregnancy discount programs from which to choose. 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, if you like more of a homey feel. 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.
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