Secrets to Getting Your Birthing Center Covered by Insurance

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midwife mom and nurseIf you're planning to have your baby at a birthing center, check the fine print on your health insurance policy. Some insurance companies have a sneaky way of saying they "support" birthing centers without actually signing contracts with any centers. So hopeful pregnant women are turned away with the explanation that there are no "in-network" birthing centers in their area, a "gap in coverage" which limits their options to traditional hospitals, and/or, in some cases, only partial reimbursement for a birthing center birth. 

Still, more and more moms are finding ways to fight back against this loophole. Pennsylvania mom Holly Yeager is circulating a petition against her insurance carrier, Geisinger Choice, insisting that they step up and support local birthing centers as promised. Other moms are beginning to find loopholes in the system that work in, not against, their favor:

  • Have a home birth with an in-network midwife (no "facility" charge if you're in your own house!).
  • Don't take no for an answer! Instead of calling constantly and getting the same answer 30 times in a row from a receptionist ("No, we don't cover any birthing centers around here"), write letters to insurance company bigwigs explaining your situation. Be sure to include positive statistics about birth center births, and do point out that the overall cost of a home/birth center birth is far lower than a couple of days spent in the hospital. Insurers want to save money, not waste it!
  • Start a petition, like Yaeger's, and rack up those signatures!
  • Look for a major hospital that features a birthing center facility as part of its labor and delivery department. Since these fall under the hospital umbrella, coverage is usually not a problem.

As a last resort, remember that even if you do end up giving birth in a traditional facility, you can still draft a birthing plan to suit your needs and, if possible, enlist the help of a doula or midwife to act as your advocate.

Have you run into any problems getting insurance to cover a birthing center?


Image via SirLyric/Flickr

delivery, homebirth, labor & delivery

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Sara Jeffers Dodson

I'm 34 weeks and we're having this baby at a birth center. My insurance covered it completely, we just had to pay the deductible just like we would a the hospital. It didn't cost us more and it saves our insurance company some money. It really doesn't make sense for them *not* to cover it.

Helen Roberts

Many existing laws and regulations apply specifically to pregnant women. Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act offer new benefits for expecting mothers. Search online for "Penny Health Insurance" if you need affordable insurance for yourself or your wife.

Holly Haas Yeager

Thank you so much for doing this article !!! I will keep everyone posted on my progress. We have our appeal hearing on June 28th and I am super excited !!!!

nonmember avatar Kt

My husband is in the military so we have TriCare Prime. The cover a birth center that is over 1 1/2 hrs away. The baby will be due during a station transfer to Japan, so I have to rely on family to get me where I need to go. There is a birthing center 30 minutes away but TriCare Prime says I would need to "dis-enroll" in order to go where I want. I feel infuriated that someone would tell me that I either need to pray for good traffic to get to the birth center in 1 1/2 hrs or be forced to deliver in a hospital where I have had nothing but negative experiences with my last two deliveries.

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