11/28/2012 3:30 PM ET|
Having a baby? Keep the costs down
Make sure all of your physicians and secondary providers are in your plan’s network, advises Joanne Armstrong, the head of Women’s Health at Hartford, Conn., insurer Aetna. Insured individuals usually pay less when using an in-network provider.
Also confirm that "the lab work and radiology center for the ultrasounds are also contracted with your health plan," Armstrong says. Additionally, hospitals may have anesthesiologists on staff during the birth of your child whose services are not covered by your specific insurance, so it's important to research physicians throughout your pregnancy and before delivery, she adds.
Considering where and how you give birth can also decrease costs. For low-risk pregnancies, depending on the mother's age and any pre-existing conditions, choosing a birthing center or working with a midwife, rather than with an obstetrician in a traditional hospital setting, can cut costs, Macones says.
"Birthing centers are a nice option for low-risk pregnancies," he says.
At the birth
Most expenses are racked up during the hospital stay. Premature birth or inducing a birth can increase costs even further because of neonatal care costs for the child. While inducing labor is typically covered, it can raise costs because there is an increased risk of C-section, says Aetna's Armstrong.
To get a more complete picture of unexpected costs, visit the hospital billing center and ask specific questions about the cost of epidurals, C-sections, private rooms, labor induction and other common expenses, Macones recommends.
"Physicians don't know these types of answers off the top of their head," he says.
Take advantage of free in-hospital classes, such as lactation counseling.
After delivery, expect multiple bills, says Lindsay Durrenberger, 26, who gave birth to son Dax in July in Tallahassee, Fla.
While her Blue Cross Blue Shield plan covered most of the $8,000 in birthing expenses, she was surprised that opting for an epidural meant she paid $550 for the out-of-pocket cost to the anesthesiologist. Another surprise: $200 extra for two in-hospital pediatrician visits. Her son's circumcision added $400.
Getting the bills can be overwhelming, says Durrenberger, whosays she expects to pay $1,349 total out of pocket for the birth.
"At this point, it's kind of nerve-wracking," she says. "I'm still waiting for the bomb to drop."
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