Expecting a child is an exciting time, but it also requires you to start realistically looking at your finances. Having a baby inside the Unites States can be very costly and the fees start even before childbirth, and continue through to delivery and after care. Delivering a child inside the US, for example, can cost anywhere from $3,000- $11,000 on average – and that is not taking into consideration complications. If you’re visiting or studying inside the United States and find out you’re pregnant, check your health insurance plan to confirm if it covers the maternity care you need.
If your current health insurance plan does not cover maternity related expenses, or you have no current coverage in place your options will be severely limited. The option of purchasing a plan that includes maternity coverage while pregnant will not be available in most cases. However, it will depend on your situation, location and insurance plan in question.
What options do you have? Let’s take a look!
Health Insurance Options:
As a general rule of thumb, nearly all insurance plans that offer some form of maternity coverage require that you are not pregnant when your plan starts. If you are, then either they will not cover you or they will simply exclude coverage for all maternity-related expenses. However, there are a few options that remain:
• Travel Medical Insurance
If you will be inside the United States for a short period of time while pregnant, there are some travel medical insurance plans that will provide coverage for complications due to pregnancy. While this is not full maternity coverage, it will cover you in the event that your pregnancy causes a medical emergency. Keep in mind that plans with this benefit will often have a timeframe in which this benefit can be used so make sure to review your policy details.
• ACA Compliant Plans:
ACA compliant insurance plans do not exclude pre-existing conditions (and pregnancies fall in this category). This means that if you’re already pregnant and you’re eligible, you’ll be able to receive maternity coverage with an ACA compliant plan. Keep in mind that your status as an international visitor along with the requirements of each state will vary. You will need to check the Health Insurance Marketplace during open enrollment (November 1- January 31) or see if you qualify for a special enrollment period.
Treatment Options Without Insurance:
If you’re not able to obtain an insurance plan that covers your maternity expenses, here are a few options that can help ease the pain of high maternity bills.
• Birthing Center or Midwife:
Birthing centers are equipped to handle low-risk births, and have the capability to transfer mothers to a hospital in the event of complications. Birthing centers typically focus on natural births, without the use of doctors or epidurals. The cost of delivery at birth centers is typically between $3,000-$4,000.
• Women’s Clinic:
Along with delivery fees, you must also consider prenatal and postnatal care- both of which can also become very expensive. A women’s clinic is a great option for women who need an economical alternative. The cost of care at a women’s clinic will vary on your income, so be sure to contact the clinic of your choice to get accurate pricing information.
• Payment Plans:
If you’re set on seeking care at a hospital, it might still be an option- just keep in mind that your medical costs will add up quickly. If you have a cesarean or run into any complications it could quickly add up to almost $45,000. The good news is that many hospitals will allow you to set up payment plans and negotiate the cost. Prior to delivery, make sure you call local hospitals and doctors to compare prices and confirm if they’re able to arrange affordable payment plans.
• Going Home:
Although it will bring your international activities to a halt, you should also explore the option of going home. Since the US is the most expensive country for medical care, this can save you money, especially if you have a national healthcare program back home. Consider the options above and contact your international student/scholar advisor to explore nearby options. If you’re unable to find an affordable maternity plan, consider placing your trip on hold, returning home to have your child, and returning to the US in the future.