Health insurance for pregnant women: what you need to know

My co-worker is pregnant. Everything in the office is about babies—what will the nursery be like, potential baby names, what crazy names celebrities name their babies, baby showers and horror stories of pregnancy. Since she is having a girl, the office feels very pink.

I love it. I do not have kids, or plan to have any soon, so I get my fix through my co-worker. It seems that everything somehow revolves around babies. Even a health insurance quote.

Our company health insurance policies are up for renewal. We either stick with what we have, change it, or quit the company insurance policy entirely in favor of an independent insurance policy. And for my co-worker, this was a serious decision for her. And for women who are pregnant, and those who are planning to become pregnant, should think of it as a serious decision as well.

First off, giving birth is a pricey medical expense. Without insurance, it can cost thousands. And that is if there are no complications. My brother’s baby was in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) for two weeks. If they did not have insurance, it would have cost them over $30,000. Thankfully, they had insurance and we not put under extreme financial burden.

Having insurance does not just help financially—even though that is a huge relief—it helps with peace of mind. Knowing that whenever you have your baby you will be able to afford the exact help you need. When getting medical help for myself, I often skimp in the name of budgeting, but the health of a baby cannot be skimped. If not, the health of a baby will be at risk.

Besides the medical expenses associated with actually giving birth, (hospital stay, doctor, any medications like an epidural to ease the pain) pregnant women should visit their doctor regularly to monitor the progress of the baby. This is to determine if the mother has gestational diabetes, if there are any birth defects, and to avoid any complications. These can add up. With insurance, it is much more manageable.

But you cannot get insurance whenever you want. If you are planning to get pregnant, get insurance first. Most insurance policies view pregnancy as a pre-existing condition and will not cover you if you are already pregnant.

The big issue my co-worker had with switching insurance was the providers. For the past year she has visited a doctor in the network approved by her insurance policy. Was it ideal? No. But it was all that was offered. This year, as open enrollment rolls by, we were given the option to switch to a different network for the same cost. But she is 7 months pregnant, and she really likes her doctor. Instead of switching to a new network, (which would mean her current doctor is not approved, and therefore will not be covered) she is staying with her previous insurance. But after she has her baby, she is stuck with that policy until open enrollment next year.