What is Prenatal Health Insurance?

Matthew Brodsky

Prenatal health insurance is coverage used by pregnant women to help pay for the proper care of themselves and their unborn babies during the nine-month pregnancy period. It can come in the form of maternity insurance provided by an employer, or expectant mothers can buy a separate, temporary health insurance plan if they have no other form of health insurance. In many cases, women who need financial assistance can also get forms of prenatal health insurance through government-subsidized programs.

Prenatal health insurance covers care during pregnancy.
Prenatal health insurance covers care during pregnancy.

No matter how women end up getting prenatal health insurance, the coverage typically pays out for various types of care that they might want or need during their pregnancy period. Such prenatal services can include alternative care, which involves non-hospital settings, such as at-home births or birthing centers, and medical professionals other than doctors, such as midwives. Insurance can also cover traditional prenatal costs, such as visits to the doctor, prenatal tests and blood work, health screenings for babies and the costs of the hospital stay at the time of birth.

Prenatal insurance typically covers all doctor appointments.
Prenatal insurance typically covers all doctor appointments.

Maternity insurance usually is meant to cover a percentage of these costs. Some of the more common forms of temporary prenatal health insurance, for instance, might pay 50 percent to 60 percent of the costs of lab work, doctor's office visits and in-patient hospital care. Prenatal health insurance provided through employee benefits might cover more of the expenses, especially when combined with an employer's normal healthcare insurance plan. Both forms of maternity insurance could require the mother and her family to pay a monthly premium.

For women who are uninsured or underinsured and cannot afford to pay for prenatal health insurance, another option is government-subsidized programs. Some programs help people who have lower incomes afford certain medical care, including prenatal services and birth. The ways to qualify and apply for a program, as well as the specific benefits provided by it, vary from place to place. Government programs can also help provide the proper nutrition and healthcare information needed by pregnant women and can help them get nutritious food either for free or for reduced prices.

Prenatal screening and other services are important for the health of mothers and babies. Research has suggested that babies have a higher risk of lower birth rate and premature death if they do not receive prenatal care. Prenatal services allow medical professionals to see whether babies are developing properly or to detect problems as early as possible.

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