If 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?
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