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Health & Insurance

Giving Birth in the US

Giving birth is a very exciting life event and even more so if it happens outside of your home country. But never fear! We tell you all about what your insurance covers, how to choose the right ob-gyn or midwife, and which places are suitable for giving birth in the US.

When you decide on giving birth in the US, there are quite a few things you need to take care of. While medical quality standards are generally high, you can choose among different places to deliver your baby. Your type of insurance may be a factor which determines how and where you will have your baby and the care you will receive before and after the birth.

You may choose to give birth with or without an epidural or by way of a C-section. You can also have your baby at home, at a hospital or at a special birth center. No matter how you will be giving birth in the US, make sure that you remember to see your doctor or midwife for ultrasounds and other prenatal examinations to ensure your baby’s health.

In the USA, you can apply for unpaid maternity leave of about 12 weeks. If your employer grants you the leave, you’ll have to plan how to get by financially. Ask yourself if your partner’s salary and your personal savings are enough to provide for your little family during that time. Giving birth in the US can be an inherently positive experience if you make sure to gather enough information on ob-gyn and midwife options beforehand.

What Does my Insurance Cover?

Many health insurance plans do not cover all the costs of giving birth in the US. Contact your health insurance company to find out about the type of coverage they provide and plan on how to afford the medical costs. If your employer covers your health insurance or if you are on a company insurance plan, talk to your company’s HR department to find out how they usually deal with these kinds of situations. Maternity care may even be fully covered and you will not have to worry about additional costs.

According to the Affordable Care Act all insurance providers are required to cover maternity care (at least partially). You should, however, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to find out exactly which services they cover and if you need to turn to a specific hospital or ob-gyn when giving birth in the US. If your pregnancy is not a surprise but a well-planned decision, then you should try to talk to your contact person before you even get pregnant. Some insurance companies may offer additional coverage for maternity care.

Without sufficient health insurance coverage, pregnancy and giving birth in the US can get very expensive, though. A natural delivery costs between $10,000 and $15,000, not including ultrasounds and other treatments during the nine months preceding the birth. If complications occur during child birth or if you need to have a C-section, the costs will be even higher.

You can apply for Medicaid to support you during your pregnancy and to cover your costs if you are eligible to receive social security payments. Your income level will be the determining factor to decide whether you will receive Medicaid or not.

Choosing the Right Ob-Gyn

Ob-gyns are specialist doctors who have not only completed medical school, but also spent their residency in obstetrics and gynecology. They are trained professionals who can assist you during pregnancy and when giving birth in the US. Usually, they also have a lot of experience with high-risk pregnancies and surgery.

You’ll want to find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable and provides exactly the care you need. Ask your friends or your general physician for a referral. If your insurance restricts your choice, contact them and ask for a list of recommended ob-gyns in your area. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to find the right doctor to care for you when giving birth in the US.

Especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy, you should visit your ob-gyn frequently. It also makes sense to find out if your doctor is willing to perform epidurals, C-sections, and various delivery methods. If you have specific expectations of giving birth in the US, it is important to know that your ob-gyn supports your choices.

Different doctors work with different hospitals. Find out which hospital(s) your ob-gyn is affiliated with and call to see if you can schedule a tour of the maternity ward. You may also want to enquire if your ob-gyn will be on duty when you will be giving birth in the US. In bigger practices, where several doctors work on a rotating schedule, this may not always be the case. If you decide to change your ob-gyn during your pregnancy, make sure to have all of your medical records transferred to your new doctor.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine