by Chad Lehrman
If you live in Arizona and want to become pregnant, you should be aware that a normal delivery, meaning a delivery in which no medical complications arise, can cost you more than $10,000.
(If you are already pregnant, click here to read about what options you may have.)
Almost all of the individual/family health insurance plans available in Arizona do not include maternity benefits. This is a relatively recent development, as most of the companies have slowly dropped their maternity plans over the last few years. By law, all plans do include “complications of maternity” benefits, but that only includes major complications- it does not mean you have maternity coverage if you are on one of those plans. Today, a c-section surgery is usually not considered a complication of maternity, and in all likeliness, a c-section would have to be paid by you, not your insurance company. A c-section can add an additional $5,000 to that $10,000 figure mentioned above.
Here in Arizona, there are only two major individual health insurance plans that still offer maternity coverage — the HealthNet HMO and Cigna HMO plans. (The other companies in the state, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ, Humana, and United HealthCare/ Golden Rule have all discontinued their maternity options.)
The monthly premium for each of these plans is quite expensive. For example, if you are a 25 year old female, both plans cost over $400 a month.
In addition, you must be covered for at least 12 months before you become pregnant. Prenatal care and delivery costs are not covered unless you deliver your baby 21 months after your policy starts.
Once you add up the cost of the deductible, co-insurance, and 21 months of paying the monthly premiums, you’re paying well over $10,000.
Self-Pay Maternity Packages
However, there is another solution to these extremely high costs that works well for many people. Most Arizona hospitals, especially those located in Phoenix and Tucson, offer steeply discounted rates to cash-paying customers that use their birthing centers. The rates vary, but for a normal delivery expect to pay about $3,000-$5,000 for your delivery, in addition to doctors’ fees.
If you purchase a health insurance policy that does not include maternity benefits, your monthly premium costs are much less than those that include maternity. For example, a very good Blue Cross policy for a 25 year old female living in Scottsdale costs $100-$175 per month. You can purchase a plan without maternity coverage, become pregnant as soon as you want, pay cash to the hospital, and win every way you look at it. You don’t have to wait 21 months to have a baby and you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars extra in monthly premiums.
If anything major goes wrong during your delivery, you don’t need to be concerned with emergency costs. Your individual policy, even though it does not provide maternity benefits, does have “complications of maternity” benefits. Also, your existing health insurance policy is required to cover your new baby immediately. If your baby is born with health issues, he/she will have full coverage under your existing plan.
The non-maternity coverage scenario does not work for everyone, particularly those women that have had difficult deliveries or pregnancies in the past. But odds are in your favor that it will work for you.
Get Individual Coverage
Click here if you’d like us to send you a quote with your different health insurance options in Arizona. If you have questions related to maternity coverage, give us a call at 1-800-600-9663.
If your income is low, you may qualify for AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program for low income residents. (Believe it or not, more than half of the babies born in Arizona are paid for through AHCCCS.) For more information, visit BabyArizona.gov.
Here is a PDF from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona that lists hospitals offering maternity packages.
* Please note: This information regarding maternity coverage relates to individual / family coverage in Arizona. If you have the option to join a group plan through an employer, that is probably your best option. All group plans in Arizona are required to offer immediate maternity coverage, even if you are already pregnant.
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