Although you’re clearly not going to risk your baby’s health (and yours) by skipping medical consultations, there are many ways of saving money on your pregnancy-related medical expenses.
The first thing you need to know is what’s tax deductible, but from your insurance packages to the time of year you conceive and the hospital you choose for delivery, there are plenty of ways to save on the rather hefty bills that go with bringing a new child into the world. We look at the strategies you can use to save a few dollars without placing yourself or your baby at risk in any way.
Check out your medical insurance
Whether you’re planning to add a new bundle of joy to your family or have already discovered that you’re expecting, your insurance plan will determine how much you pay, and what’s covered.
In most cases, you’ll find that an insurance plan that satisfies more of your pregnancy related expenses costs more, but most families find that it’s well worth opting for a higher premium in exchange for more extensive cover.
After all, unlike ‘normal’ times of your life, you know for sure that you’ll have a lot of medical bills to cover, so providing for that places you in a more financially secure place. Shop around, and ask very pointed questions to ensure you get the most comprehensive cover for the lowest cost.
Put your family on different plans
As Mom, you’re the one most likely to incur medical bills – provided your family is generally pretty healthy. It might make sense putting yourself on the higher premium greater benefits plan, but it doesn’t make sense doing that to cover your whole family. They don’t actually need it, and the higher premiums for covering all of them might negate the savings you’re trying to achieve.
Time your pregnancy – if possible
Falling pregnant between November and March means that all your baby-related medical expenses fall into a single insurance year. Remember, your insurance plan specifies a maximum out of pocket expense. Spread your pregnancy over two insurance years, and you can double the costs you have to pay from your personal finances.
Find out if your insurance covers ‘extras’
Mothers who hope to breastfeed may need additional counseling and the pump that helps them to store milk for a baby after they’ve had to go back to work. You could get your pump entirely free – provided you know that your coverage includes it. Many mothers don’t claim because they aren’t fully informed of ‘extras’ that are covered by insurance.
Be sure of who is ‘in-network’ and get it in writing!
When you’re referred to sonar or other specialists, be sure that your medical insurance covers your provider. Get it in writing. Women have reported that, although they’re assured they have a cover, they are held responsible for the bill afterward – unless they can prove they were told the service was ‘in-network’.
Check on hospital rates
Depending on your choice of city – or even your choice of hospital – birthing costs vary dramatically. Sure, you want the best care for you and baby, but with rates differing by as much as $60,000 or more for a C-section and by $30,000 or more for natural births, it’s worth looking into the potential benefits that the most expensive hospitals offer over the lower priced ones.
Quite often, you’ll find that these are minimal, and certainly not worth tens of thousands of dollars. Will a private room and cable TV really give the baby the best start in life? Probably not! Compare your options in advance.
Ask about discounts
Some hospitals offer discounts as big as 25% if you pay your bill in advance instead of waiting for the account to arrive. If you assume a difference in payment date of 30 days, it’s really not worth spending 25% more just so you can delay payment for one month!
Get out of hospital when you can
If you have supportive family members to take care of you, the sooner you check out of the hospital, the better! Daily rates often exceed what you would pay to stay at a smart hotel, so if you don’t actually need the extra medical support, recovering at home makes sense.
Always check your doctors and your insurer
Make sure there are no costly misunderstandings. What are the rates? What is your cover? Know what you’re letting yourself in for before making any appointments whatsoever.
Claim everything you can
First-trimester diagnostic expenses are tax deductible. If your insurance doesn’t cover you in full, at least you can deduct them from your tax! During your second trimester, ultrasound, serum tests and amniocentesis are likewise tax deductible. In the third trimester, your doctor’s visits and birthing expenses are all tax deductible.
Just remember that any extras you ask for that weren’t actually required by your doctor can’t be deducted from tax. Keep all the proofs that show your doctor actually recommended medical tests. If you opt for extras, be aware that they will be for your own account.
If you can’t save on the direct cost, at least you can save on tax, but you will have to do your math. Anything exceeding 10% of your gross income can be claimed from tax.
Did you know that transport to your doctor’s office also counts as a medical expense? Keep a log book!
Unfortunately, extra help around the house, babysitters for your older children, maternity wear and diapers all have to come out of pocket – and you can’t claim them back.
Questions to ask your insurer
- Does my policy cover prenatal care, labor, and childbirth?
- Do I have to provide proof that my doctor has referred me to a specialist or for tests?
- What prenatal tests are covered by my health insurance? Are there any exclusions?
- What common costs will I be expected to cover myself?
- Are there any local hospitals that are not covered by my insurer’s network?
- Will my baby be fully covered after delivery?
- For how long after childbirth is my hospital stay covered?
- If you are looking at alternatives such as home birth, to what degree are you covered?
Questions to ask your hospital
- How much does natural or C-section birth cost on average? Is anesthesia included in that cost?
- What is the cost of newborn care and are there additional daily costs?
- Are there extra charges for using WiFi, watching TV, asking for common painkillers or using a breast pump? If so, you might want to bring your own supplies along – and a good book!
- Are there lower rates if you choose a semi-private room? What about discounts for leaving the hospital early?
- Are all the doctors, anesthesiologists, etc. that will be involved, part of your medical insurance network?
Ask and keep asking till you get answers!
The more questions you ask, the more you’ll be able to judge your out of pocket costs and whether your hospital will give you a good deal or not. Needless to say, getting your answers in writing is the best way to go. If the result differs from what has been promised, you can appeal – as long as you got all your info in writing first.
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