The average American family spends thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs in medical bills related to having a baby. The overall out of pocket care for both baby and mama for the first year of the baby’s life is around 8.8k.*
If you’re expecting a baby, don’t worry, that number takes into consideration many factors, and it's not necessarily what you will owe. Some of the circumstances that create intimidating numbers like this can be avoided, and some are unavoidable. But in all cases, the burden of the costs can be lessened by budgeting and using proper tools to help manage the bills. Here are a few tips:
1. Call your health insurance provider.
If you have insurance, call your insurance provider. Before this call, make sure you know the doctors you plan to see for your care, and the locations where you will visit them. Ask the following questions:
- Ask if your health insurance plan is contracted with your healthcare provider and location. If the answer is yes, that means that your provider is in-network, which means your out of pocket costs will be significantly lower than if you went to an out of network provider.
- Ask what your family’s out of pocket maximum will be. This is important, because even if you know your deductible, you could end up paying more than that, because the baby has their own deductible.
2. Budget and plan accordingly.
Once you know what services will be covered by your insurance plan, and how much you could be responsible for paying in the worst case scenario, you should start budgeting to prepare. For example, if you found out that your provider is in-network, and your family’s out of pocket maximum for in-network providers if $5,000, you should start setting aside that amount, just to be safe. On the other hand, if your provider is out of network, and your out of pocket maximum for out of network providers is $10,000, you should either look for an in-network provider, or prepare to owe up to $10,000.
3. Get organized.
No matter what kinds of costs are involved, there will doubtless be paperwork that accompanies this process, including EOBs, bills, and more. It's best to give little bit of thought beforehand as to how you are going to handle them, and give yourself a break by obtaining the right tools. For example, some people like to track expenses manually on a spreadsheet, and then store paperwork and bills in binders.
Another option is to go paperless and use the RexPay app, which was designed by patients and for patients for the purpose of managing medical bill mayhem. Within the app, patients can store and organize bills, set reminders to pay them, set up payments plans, track deductible & out of pocket max, HSA/FSA balances, and ask questions related to medical billing. RexPay’s blog and social media accounts also create content related to managing medical bills.
4. Be aware.
Keep your eyes wide open during the whole process. Ask questions of your insurance company and your healthcare provider, and review the paperwork you receive. Stand up for yourself if you think you are being charged for a service you did not receive, or if your insurance isn’t covering something they said they would. Don’t expect that anyone is going to do you any favors. One patient RexPay interviewed was billed $1,000 for having a nurse watch her baby for one hour. Another patient was charged $25,000 for her delivery because the location was out of network, even though the doctor was in-network. Don’t panic! It doesn’t mean something similar will happen to you, it just means that this topic is worth knowing a bit about before you are in the midst of it.
In summary, maternity-related medical bills do not have to cause mayhem. A bit of education can be very empowering, and hopefully this information helps you to prepare for potential medical bill costs. Also, hopefully it encourages you to do more research on this topic, until you become an expert yourself! It’s important to realize that a few simple steps can go a long way in making this a smoother process overall.
By: Colleen McCrum, Success Manager at RexPay Inc
*This number depends on many factors: whether the care was in network or out of network, whether there were birthing complications, when the baby’s birth falls in the calendar year, etc..