How To Create an Affordable Birth Plan in 2023

How To Create an Affordable Birth Plan in 2023

 

Pure joy.

The deepest of sorrows.

Somewhere in between.

 

Can any one of us predict which will be the outcome of our pregnancy and birth experiences?

 

A positive pregnancy test is displayed, representative of those seeking financial coverage for their 2023 pregnancies and births

 

…the answer is, “No.”

 

Bringing new life into the world always comes at a cost.

 

Though the physical, emotional, and spiritual tolls of pregnancy and childbirth are highly important to discuss, this post exclusively concerns the financial cost of childbearing. 
(Please check out our resources HERE if you are a grieving parent. You are not alone.) 

 

Financial stress should be the very last weight upon your mind, whether you walk away from birth with a full heart or with empty arms.

 

I've crunched numbers and hunted down data to give you some financial insight and suggestions. 
These are based upon my own birth experiences and should not be taken as medical advice, nor are they a wholistic substitute for the guidance of an insurance agent.

 

My hope is to introduce to you the very best financial options available for maternity coverage in 2023. 

 

The national average cost for a 2023 vaginal birth in the U.S. is $14,768

 

 An average low complication, U.S., in-hospital birth is through-the-roof expensive, estimated between $14,768 for a vaginal birth and $26,280 for a c-section in a study of data from 2018-2020.
(Keep in mind that this data is already outdated given the heightened inflation through 2020-2023). 

 

Once we account for NICU stays, birthing complications, and congenital defects we're left staring face-to-face with a potential bankruptcy nightmare. 

 

The national average cost for a 2023 c-section birth in the U.S. is $26,280

 

 

Pregnancy-Related Medicaid

 

In June of 2019 I knew-that-I-knew I was pregnant, three weeks before a test would confirm the fact (a story for another day). 

 

As I researched healthcare options, I was shocked to learn that I could be eligible for Pregnancy-Related Medicaid. Money was tight while my husband was a full-time student and I worked for an hourly wage but we never went without. 

  

Medicaid, CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), and Pregnancy-Related Medicaid are highly worth exploring if your income level is at or below 133%-185% of the Federal Poverty Level:

 

48 CONTIGUOUS STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in Family/Household 2021 Coverage (2020 Poverty Levels) 2022 Coverage (2021 Poverty Levels) 2023 Coverage (2022 Poverty Levels)
1 $12,760 $12,880 $13,590
2 $17,240 $17,420 $18,310
3 $21,720 $21,960 $23,030
4 $26,200 $26,500 $27,750
5 $30,680 $31,040 $32,470
6 $35,160 $35,580 $37,190
7 $39,640 $40,120 $41,910
8 $44,120 $44,660 $46,630
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,480 for each additional person for 2021 coverage, add $4,540 for 2022 coverage, and add $4,720 for 2023 coverage.

This chart has been sourced from https://obamacarefacts.com/federal-poverty-levels-for-aca-coverage

 

 There are two ways you can apply for Medicaid:

1. Directly with your state.


2. Through the Health Insurance Marketplace®.

  • Visit HealthCare.gov to create a Marketplace account and complete an application.
  • You can also call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to apply.

    Check out this link for more information on Medicaid eligibility:

    https://www.hhs.gov/answers/medicare-and-medicaid/who-is-eligible-for-medicaid/index.html 

         

        Individual & Family Health Insurance Plans

         

        My first full-term child was born in July of 2020, following the miscarriage of my first little one.

         

        Due to some issues with timing and lapses in coverage, I sought out a private health insurance plan for myself through the State of Idaho's Health Insurance Marketplace. I paid for an individual health insurance plan with a crazy-low deductible and a $4,000 maximum out-of-pocket. 

         

        At conception, my healthcare plan was subsidized because of our income level, costing $127.46/month.

         

        It jumped twice in price as my husband graduated from college and began full-time work in the construction industry, up to $428.32/month for my final 6 months of pregnancy.

         

          My 2020 Vaginal Birth Cost Breakdown

         
        Did you know that once a baby is born, they incur their own, separate set of in-hospital expenses?! I certainly did not.
        Following birth, you will have 60 days to place your newborn on his/her own insurance coverage plan. You can easily learn more about it at healthcare.gov
         
         

        My Health Insurance Policy (Start of Pregnancy - 6 weeks Postpartum): $3,350.14

        Birth Costs: $6,624.33

        The REAL Cost: $9,974.47

         

         Following Birth, we elected to change my care to the most cost-effective Christian cost-sharing plan and added our baby girl to my husband's health insurance policy. 

         

        Unless you receive healthcare benefits as compensation through your workplace, you will need to research and purchase your own health insurance policy. We highly recommend speaking with an insurance agent (at no cost) if you are seeking commercial insurance coverage. 

         

        CHM

         

        My second full-term child was born in November of 2021.

         

        Nearly every step of the way, she was blessedly complication free.

         

        We had no prenatal complications, no extra charges for genetic testing or additional ultrasounds, no pain-meds, no induction, no everything-else, and room charges for less than 24 hours as we petitioned to leave before this completely healthy Mama and baby incurred a second night's-worth of hospital charges.

         

        It was a simple, beautiful, natural birth; the kind of birth we loss-Mama's dream of having one day. 
        (Again, if you're a fellow loss-parent, please don't hesitate to check out our resource pages linked HERE. We even have a section devoted to pregnancy after loss.)

         

        The bill?

         

        Even the simplest, minimal-intervention births can come with high price tags.

         

        Though the $20,022.45 total is not far off from 2023's estimated nationwide average, $18,865 (Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health System Tracker), it still brings a red-hot flush to my face when I think about this unfair U.S. pricing for the uninsured.

         

        My 2021 Complication-Free, Vaginal Birth Cost Breakdown, Totaling over $20,000 prior to Discounts and Cost Sharing

         

        Thankfully, though "uninsured," I was a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries. Thanks to this incredible program (I'm quite sure my family will choose CHM over traditional health insurance for the remainder of our lifetimes), all $14,732.72 owed after cash-payer discounts was paid in full. 

         

        CHM Shares (start of Pregnancy - 90 Days Postpartum): $2,064

        Birth Costs: $0 (entirely covered by CHM)

        The REAL Cost: $2,064

         

        Inflation on the heels of the pandemic has warranted a restructuring of Christian Healthcare Ministries, so let's take an in-depth look at all of the costs and considerations for 2023 CHM pregnancy coverage. 

         

        Why CHM?

         

         First off, WHY Christian Healthcare Ministries and not another popular cost-sharing program? 

         

        After examining the costs and policies for *Samaritan™ MinistriesMedi-Share®, and Liberty HealthShare™ we landed on Christian Healthcare Ministries because it remains the most cost-effective and reputable option for pregnancy and birth coverage.

        *Note that Samaritan Ministries maternity might be a better financial fit for your family if you, your spouse, and at least 1 child will all be members. Read through their most current guidelines by clicking HERE 

         

        Is Christian Healthcare Ministries right for you? This is a chart breaking down the eligible and ineligible cost sharing expenses with CHM.

         

        As you can see in the chart above, CHM isn't the best fit for everyone.

         

        CHM does NOT cover:

         

        • Membership-seeking individuals who do NOT agree to CHM's Biblical Principle Guidelines

        If you do not identify as a Christian but like the idea of cost-sharing, try taking a look at Sedera, a non-religious medical cost sharing program. It's more expensive than CHM, but sometimes less expensive than commercial health insurance. Take a look at Sedera's membership guidelines by clicking HERE.

         

        • Pregnancy for unwed mothers

        This coincides with the point above.

        "CHM members follow biblical principles with respect to the use of alcohol and abstain from practices inconsistent with a biblical lifestyle, including (but not limited to) ilegal drugs, tobacco, nicotine, any smoking device (including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, herbal cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vape pens, etc.), and sexual immorality (as defined in the Scriptures and expressed in CHM's Statements of Beliefs)."

         

        • A pregnancy conceived prior to joining, or conceived within the first month of membership

        And yes, they do enforce this.

        Ironically, my first hospital birth was all set for full coverage through CHM, but then our daughter was conceived a few days too soon after joining 😬

         

        • Infertility treatments, IVF, surrogate procedures, Embro implant/transfer/adoption, and pregnancies resulting from sperm donation

        If you are on an infertility journey, CHM may not be the best fit for your family, though most insurance plans will likewise deem infertility procedures ineligible. 

         

        • Contraceptives, birth control expenses, tubal ligations, vasectomies, or reversal procedures

        Medicaid and most commercial insurance plans routinely cover all but reversal procedures. 

         

        • Birth-related travel expenses, or the additional support of a doula

        These expenses are likewise not generally covered by pregnancy Medicaid or commercial insurance plans.

         

        • Breast pumps and over-the-counter medications

        *Look at the chart below to calculate the cost and alternative plans' coverage of a breast pump

        Electric breast pumps can be found for little-to-no-cost through lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups, or online.

         

        • Immunizations for your baby

        If you intend to vaccinate, check out your state's department of health and welfare webpage. Most states offer programs for little-to-no-cost childhood vaccines, even without any form of health insurance. 

          

        Let's take a look at the chart below to evaluate a few of these points: 

         

        Other considerations when looking at health insurance vs. cost sharing plans vs. pregnancy Medicaid for your 2023 affordable birth planningReferences worth checking out:

        IBCLC costs: How to Find a Lactation Consultant 

        NICU costs: March of Dimes Study

         

        Alright, let's crunch the numbers:

         

        The costs associated with pregnancy and birth in 2023 covered by Christian Healthcare Ministries

         

        CHM Gold Program 2023 Shares (Start of Pregnancy - 90 days Postpartum): $2,820
        Birth Costs (Maternity Personal Responsibility): $1,000 
        Optional addition of CHM's Brother's Keeper Program: $264
        The REAL Cost: *$3,820  - **$4,084 

         

         *$125,000 sharing cap 

        **unlimited sharing 

         

        Alternative Birthing Options

         

        If no complications necessitating a hospital stay present themselves, or if you have trauma associated with hospitals, consider a local birth center or even a home birth.

         

        Read reviews for birth centers and/or midwives near you and tour/contact highly recommended options. Every form of care, whether at a center or at home with a certified midwife/team will have a strict policy for hospital transfer in the case of an emergency, and they will be more than happy to walk through it step by step with you.

         

         Alternative birth options to a hospital, including average U.S. costs of birth centers, home births, and emergency transportation between facilities

        As shown in the chart above, Christian Healthcare Ministries is the only option that always covers each alternative birth option, making it a fantastic plan if you are hoping for a natural birth. 

         

        Conclusion

         

        Unless you receive healthcare benefits as compensation through your workplace, here are our top recommendations:

         

        • If your financial status is at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level, triple-check your eligibility for Pregnancy-Related Medicaid. It's the most cost-effective coverage created to assist your family in a financially-tight season.

         

        • If you are ALREADY pregnant and seeking coverage, you are ineligible for all health cost-sharing, as well as some insurance plans. If your income level rules out Pregnancy-Related Medicaid, and you are reading this outside of the U.S. Health Insurance Marketplace's Open Enrollment Period (November 1 - January 15), we highly recommend scheduling a complimentary meeting with an insurance agent. He/she will assist you in pricing out temporary policies and find you the best coverage possible. 

         

        • If you are wrestling through infertility and intend to seek medical treatments, most cost-sharing and health insurance plans (including Medicaid) will not pay any part of your treatment's bills. However, we highly recommend checking out fertility grants by clicking HERE. Unless your income level qualifies you for Medicaid, we can't speak highly enough of Christian Healthcare Ministries as your most cost-effective coverage option.

           

          • If you intend to have a tubal ligation procedure it may be most cost effective to seek out a commercial insurance policy. (Note: Vasectomies and other birth control expenses are far more cost effective). 

           

           

          If the points above do not apply to you, I'll nonchalantly be over here shouting, "Christian Healthcare Ministries!" from the mountain tops. CHM has provided such financial relief to my family, and I can't wait for you to experience their care and community.  

             

            Author: Shareya Holm, Owner of MyJuly27

             

            Disclosure:

            CHM discounts the author's membership in accordance with each membership referral through a "Christian Healthcare Ministries" or "CHM" link on this blog entry.

            CHM grants this opportunity for discounted membership through referrals to all members who apply for the CHM Bring-A-Friend Program.

             

             

             

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