The American Pregnancy Association reports that the average cost of a delivery is between $6,000 and $8,000, and that’s if you have a low-risk pregnancy. Those numbers can seem pretty scary if you’re pregnant and have no health insurance. Fortunately, there are a number of private and government programs available that help you get the medical care you need at a reduced cost or no cost, as long as you qualify.
A birth center may be a practical option to consider if you're pregnant and have no health insurance. The cost of prenatal care and delivery at a birth center is about a third less than what you would have to pay to deliver your baby in a hospital, according to BabyCenter. For women who are basically healthy and at low risk for pregnancy or birth complications, a birth center allows you to go home within 12 to 24 hours after delivery. Birth centers cost less because they use fewer medical interventions and care is provided by a midwife and nurse. A doctor is on call if there is an emergency.
Health care providers sometimes offer sliding-fee scale discounts to patients who don’t have health insurance and qualify for assistance. These types of programs generally base eligibility on the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The amount of the discount you receive is based on your gross household income and size. Depending on your eligibility criteria, you may qualify to receive medical services that are discounted up to 90 percent. Pregnant women who are below 100 percent of the FPG may only have to pay a nominal fee for services.
CHIP for Pregnant Women
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has programs available in every state, provides free or low-cost health coverage to both children and pregnant women. CHIP covers women during pregnancy and delivery and for up to 60 days of postpartum care. If your income is above the Medicaid eligibility threshold but is low enough that you can’t afford to pay for health insurance coverage on your own, you may qualify for prenatal care under CHIP. Each state is responsible for developing its own eligibility guidelines and the application procedures and types of benefits a program provides vary from state to state.
Medicaid is a federally funded program administered by each state. Uninsured, low-income, pregnant women who qualify for Medicaid coverage receive care for prenatal visits, labor and delivery, postpartum care and care for any pregnancy-related complications that may arise. States vary in their eligibility requirements and the services they provide. Individual states have the right to decide whether to provide a woman with full coverage or only pay for certain medical services related to her pregnancy. Low income isn't the only eligibility requirement. If you fall within the medically needy category, you may qualify for Medicaid assistance even if your income level is above the income guidelines.
- American Pregnancy Association: Health Insurance for Pregnant Women
- BabyCenter: Birth Centers – Alternatives to Hospitals
- Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Sliding Fee Scale Memo
- Families USA: Covering Pregnant Women – CHIPRA Offers a New Option
- American Pregnancy Association: Medicaid for Pregnant Women
- Medicaid.gov: Pregnant Women
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