When to Buy Maternity Clothing

Good news has finally arrived and you can experience the joy of knowing that is has happened and you are finally going to get that precious baby you have waited for. Although you still do not look as though you are pregnant you know your belly will pop one of these days. So when is the perfect time to start buying maternity clothes because as happy as you are to be pregnant you don’t want to wake up one morning and find yourself searching your closet for things to accommodate your growing belly and find nothing.

Most women start to show around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy but it is not unheard of to start showing as early as two months. So estimating the right time to start purchasing maternity clothes by how far along you are in your pregnancy is not a great idea. It is extremely important to keep in touch with your changing body and make changes as necessary. Gradually you will start to feel as though your waistline is changing and that is the time when you need to stop squeezing into your regular pants and start looking for pregnancy clothing. Pregnancy is about listening to your body and staying up to date with what is happening with your growing belly and baby. Therefore when your body starts to make changes so should your wardrobe.

It is completely unrealistic to estimate how much weight you will gain during your pregnancy and therefore buying maternity too soon could cause a problem with sizing. By waiting until your body starts to make changes you are better equipped with the knowledge of purchasing the correct size instead of trying to guess what size you will be during later months. Buying maternity clothing too early could create more expense later on because of purchasing the wrong size. Therefore do not start too early because your body will be going through some serious changes in the next several weeks and months.

While the excitement is mounting and you are extremely excited about being pregnant and wanting to enjoy everything pregnancy has to offer remember that listening to your body is the most important thing you can do in regards to maternity clothes as well as the health of you and your baby. The best time to start buying maternity clothes is when your body starts making subtle changes therefore letting you know it is the right time.

Health Insurance Plans Covering Maternity

Many families are in search of affordable health insurance that will provide maternity or pregnancy benefits. Health carriers offer such plans, but they vary in the amount of coverage provided. Many insurers will not provide benefits to the insured for at least nine months.

As with all things insurance related, you must plan ahead. Occasionally, consumers are interested in maternity policies once they are already pregnant. They are disappointed to learn insurance cannot be purchased to cover a pregnant spouse – pregnancy is a preexisting condition. Insurers simply will not take on this risk. However, a health plan can be purchased for a healthy mother and child after delivery.

When is My Pregnancy Covered?

Generally, policies will provide benefits for maternity after the insurance has been in force for nine months, but some carriers offer plan with limited benefits that begin day one. However, if you were to purchase a plan with a nine month waiting period, your pregnancy would not be covered if the child was delivered before the nine month window had expired. Again, it is prudent to plan ahead and purchase a policy with a maternity rider some months before conception.

It might be helpful to look at this from the insurance provider’s point of view. Typically, when a couple desires and pays for a maternity plan, then they are likely to use it. The insurance company is relatively certain that a claim will come in the near future. Thus, they will build the cost into the premium for the insured (you) and mandate a waiting period. That being said, some companies are offering plans that are more attractive than others.

A Popular HSA Maternity Plan with a Reasonable Deductible

One insurance company offers a Health Savings Account (or HSA) with a maternity rider and a low $1,500 individual deductible. Once the deductible has been reached and the nine month waiting period has been satisfied, the plan would cover the balance of the pregnancy. In this example, you could fund the HSA account with at least the $1,500 and write that off against your income. The $1,500 could be withdrawn tax free to satisfy the deductible and then the policy benefits would kick in. Currently, this HSA plan is one of the more popular policies available.

Another popular plan has no waiting period and provides more benefits the longer the policy is held. The maternity rider will cover $2,000 toward a pregnancy in the first two years. During years three and four, the policy will pay up to $4,000 and years five and on the policy provides coverage up to $6,000.

Another option is to simply self insure for a pregnancy. Many consumers will purchase traditional health insurance or possibly an HSA qualified plan and save each month in order to cover maternity expenses.

How are Pregnancies Billed?

At this point, clients often ask about pre-natal care and doctor’s office visits. Fortunately, most Obstetricians do not charge as you go. Doctor’s visits, pre-natal care and delivery are all included as part of the pregnancy and usually subject to one, pre-determined charge. Thus, the final bill can be run through your insurance company (assuming you purchased a maternity rider) and then settled up.

When purchasing health insurance policies covering pregnancy, you must plan ahead. There are several options available, but you will get the most from your policy if you do your due diligence and purchase the policy ahead of time.

Request a Health Insurance Quote with Maternity

How to Avoid Maternity Insurance Mayhem

The birth of a child should be a time of enjoyment and celebration, one that should not be interrupted with unpleasant surprises regarding the payment of medical bills. Maternity insurance with excellent benefits will go a long way towards helping with the financial aspects of preparing for baby. If at all possible, it’s a wonderful idea to have maternity health insurance coverage in place before the test results come back positive.

You may say at this point that you are on a group plan at work, so there should not be any problems. That’s super, but I would encourage you to dig the policy out of the filing cabinet and take a look to see to what degree pregnancy is covered under your plan just to be safe. If the phrasing and terminology contained in your policy has your mind spinning, have the insurance clerk at your place of employment go over the portion of the policy that deals with pregnancy and explain it to you in words that you can understand.

IN NETWORK or OUT of NETWORK PROVIDERS

Before choosing a provider, check the names of in network providers listed in the latest directory provided by your insurance company. There are big benefits in choosing a doctor and hospital that are in the network. If there is a network provider that you feel will work for you, the portion of the medical bills that you have to pay out of your pocket may be substantially less than if you choose an out of network provider.

Make certain that the directory of providers is up to date because doctors and hospitals are constantly being picked up by and dropped from insurance lists all the time. As a final precaution, when you decide on a hospital and provider, call each one as well as your insurance company and verify that they are in-network and that they will accept your insurance.

Another helpful bit of information that you may want to document is the date that your chosen provider’s contract expires with your insurance company. The insurance clerk at the doctor’s office or hospital may not have these dates in her files, but don’t let this stop you from getting the facts. To get this vital information, a phone call to your insurance company may be necessary.

Compare the contract expiration dates that your insurance company provides to you with your baby’s expected delivery date. If the contract date of expiration falls before your due date, this is an indication that you may need to explore other service providers in the network because there is no guarantee that this provider’s contract will be renewed. It would be an unwelcome financial surprise to start out with an in-network provider only to find yourself out of network when it counts the most!

Maternity Health Insurance for the Pregnant: Is It Possible?

The short answer is perhaps, because there are three insurance options you could qualify for, and two state provided assistance programs. The reason it’s hard to get health insurance when you are pregnant is that the insurance companies view being pregnant as a “Pre-existing Condition,” and the costs associated with normal pre-natal and delivery care are much higher than the combined monthly premiums for a maternity health insurance plan. Plus, if there are any complications then the costs quickly climb at an exponential rate (a premature baby can have over $30,000 – $85,000 in medical costs in the first few weeks, and premature birth affects more than 1 in 10 California babies). Health insurance companies therefore will decline an application from a woman that is pregnant at the time of the application. So the mother to be needs to explore other alternative strategies to get maternity coverage.

The first alternative is to join a group health insurance plan at the company you work for or your spouse’s company. Almost all group health insurance plans offer maternity coverage. This is not an a slam-dunk however, because group health insurance plans have open enrollment periods during which employees and dependents can be added to the company health insurance plan. If your pregnancy occurs within a few months of the open enrollment period, then you can use this option and simply pay for the cost of the early prenatal visits out of pocket, until you are on the group plan.

The second alternative is for women that have a private or individual health insurance plan that does not offer maternity care. In this situation you should ask the insurance company if they will allow you to transfer to a plan that offers maternity coverage. In California, Blue Shield will allow this type of transfer, but the other medical insurance companies will not.

The third alternative is to apply for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that was created by Health Care Reform. To qualify for this plan you must have been un-insured for at least 6 months, and have been declined by a health insurance company. This plan will provide coverage for pre-natal care and delivery costs, and the overall benefits and cost of the plan make this one of the best options compared to the regular maternity insurance plans, if you can qualify for it..

If the above options don’t help you, there are a couple of non-insurance options. Depending upon what state you live in, there are government programs to provide assistance and care for pregnant mothers to be, so check with your State Department of Insurance to determine what your local options are. In California, there is the state Medi-cal program (Medi-cal is the California version of Medicaid), and the Access for Infants and Mothers (AIM) program.

If you are pregnant and don’t have health insurance, then you should start with Medi-cal first to see if you qualify for coverage through their program. Medi-cal provides a zero-cost health plan for pregnant women that meet specific income limits. Medi-cal is intended to cover families and women that are below the federal poverty level. If you don’t qualify for Medi-cal then apply to the AIM program.

The AIM Program is low-cost health care coverage for pregnant women, and is provided for middle-income families who don’t have health insurance and whose income is too high for no-cost Medi-cal. AIM is also available to women who have private health insurance plans with a maternity-only deductible or co-payment greater than $500. To be eligible for AIM a single mother’s monthly household income must be between $2,453 to $3,679 (there is a table with income ranges for families with other children at ( www.aim.ca.gov/Costs/Income_Guidelines.aspx ). The AIM program is funded by the State of California, and although funding is usually available, if the program is filled up, then no additional mothers will be enrolled.

Although maternity health insurance is not usually available after you become pregnant, there are options that can provide insurance coverage and non-insurance assistance. Joining a group health insurance plan through your company or your spouse’s company, transferring to a plan that offers maternity coverage, or applying for the PCIP plan are your insurance options. The Medi-cal and AIM programs are non-insurance assistance options that are designed to provide maternity care to the uninsured mother. With these five choices there should be a solution for all mothers to be.