Currently, 15.5 percent of the United States population -- more than 50 million people -- are uninsured. No matter the reason why, being pregnant and uninsured can feel scary and overwhelming. Getting prenatal care throughout pregnancy, and especially early pregnancy (by 8 weeks or once your pregnancy is discovered) is critical to your health and your baby's.
Thankfully, there are several different options to help uninsured families during pregnancy get the medical care they need. It's also important to know that pregnancy does not count as a "preexisting condition" and all health insurance companies are required to provide coverage during pregnancy.
Health Care and Prenatal Care Options for Pregnancy and Birth
Health Insurance Marketplace - If your employer or your partner's doesn't offer health insurance, you may be eligible for paid coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There is only one enrollment period per year, but if you are pregnant, you qualify for a special enrollment period.
Medicaid - Medicaid is a health coverage program that operated state-by-state. Medicaid provides free or low-cost health care coverage depending on your income level. Not all doctors and practices accept Medicaid, but many do. You can find care providers that accept Medicaid on your state's Medicaid website.
COBRA - If you or your partner became recently unemployed but were covered by health insurance, you may be eligible for health care through COBRA. Unfortunately, health care premiums through COBRA are often expensive, but depending on your options, it still may save you in costs if you have to pay out of pocket for medical care. You can remain on COBRA for up to 18 months.
Your Parents/Guardians - You may be eligible for health care coverage under your parents' or legal guardians' health care plan if you are 26 or younger (check to see if your state allows beyond that age). As your parent to talk to their employer's human resources department or contact their health insurance company directly.
Hospital Discounts - Many providers and hospitals offer direct pay discounts. In other words, if you are paying by cash and not using insurance, you may be eligible for discounted services as well as billing plans. Ask your OB or midwife's office, as well as the hospital where you plan to give birth.
Birth Center/Homebirth - Most birth centers and homebirth midwives charge a fraction of doctors' and hospitals' costs for prenatal and birth care. Birth outside a hospital, in a birth center or at home with a licensed midwife, is safe for most low-risk pregnancies and births. If you're interested but unsure, schedule an interview appointment with a birth center or midwife near you for more information.