So, you’re pregnant. Congratulations!
If you’re anything like me, then you have this wonderful sense of excitement about your new bundle of joy, followed by nervousness and fear of how much it will cost to have a baby.
“Wait, don’t you have insurance?” Is the question I usually get.
Yes. Yes, I do have insurance.
But you might be surprised to find out that not all insurances are the same. Some sincerely are terrible, and I’m convinced that many are simply old cranky people in a basement answering phones.
So, maybe you’re like me, and you see this sweet baby as a joyous new addition to your family, but also as an opportunity to save money and teach those pesky insurance and hospital bill collectors a lesson. What’s the lesson? You won’t be taken to the bank!
If that’s your thinking, then you’ve come to the right place.
Note: This is not going to be an exhaustive list, but only money saving tips I personally have tried.
Let me begin with why this is important to me…
Everyone’s birth experience is unique and mine is no different. For my first, I was induced, had an epidural, was hooked up to Pitocin, the works! As a matter of a fact, it was a slow day at the hospital, so I had three funny young nurses, who I was chattin’ it up with between pushes. I remember laughing, and my husband plugging my nose to help me push. To be honest… it was fun. No complications and no problems.
Until I got the bill. That’s when things got complicated.
First off there were so many, and written in a very non-specific way. Our overall cost for baby number one was 4,200 buckaroos.
After becoming pregnant with my second, (ah-hem, a little earlier than expected) I decided I was not going to be taken to the cleaners again by my insurance or the hospital! I was going to save money, cut my expenses and get out paying less than before.
I worked very hard during my pregnancy to spend less… and I did! My overall cost for bundle of joy #2 was about $2,200.00! That is 2,000 dollars less than the first time! And yes, before you ask, I had the same insurance, the same coverage, the same cranky people in a basement.
So, how’d I do it? What crazy or practical things was I willing to try? I’m glad you asked. Let’s dive right in…
Know YOUR Plan, Contact Your Insurance
- Find out what your deductibles are for you AND for a new baby, what is covered and what is not.
- Find out if there are any motherhood programs that if you participate in, will get extra stuff covered. Typically enrolling might mean they send you educational pamphlets every-so-often.
- Ask for all the information that is covered under “global maternity”… sometimes things aren’t covered that you think are (like c-sections), and probably should be. This helps you know the best ways to cut costs and save money.
- If your insurance has a website where you can check your deductible balance and any pending claims, do it often! This helps to know if you’re close to meeting deductibles and what to expect as far as overall cost (If it applies: Whether or not you meet that 80/20 rule), and will help you know how much money to save ahead of time.
A lot of times you can be overcharged and even overpay in small ways (I did both times, and had to meet with billing offices to get my money back). Knowledge is power here people. And knowing can keep your money working for you. It can be intimidating but very helpful.
Talk to your OB office
Find out what they charge and what you are responsible for. My OB office required payment up front, so we called their billing and insurance department ANY time we had a question regarding bills and payments. Doing this actually makes them more willing to work with you. True Story: I actually had a CREDIT from baby #1 at my office and nobody ever told me and didn’t have intentions to. Seriously. The only reason I found out was because I called about a separate issue.
If you trust your doctor, tell him or her that you are trying to save money. Most doctors understand this, and will work with you. Of course you want a happy healthy baby, but will the baby still be happy and healthy without five ultrasounds? Probably. I shared my birth plan with my Dr. and made sure he knew exactly what I wanted. He was very receptive to this and was able to give me tips to achieving my laboring goals… Goals like delivering naturally.
Trying Natural Birth
(Amount saved: 600+ on anesthesia supplies, 1200+ on anesthesiologist)
Now, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s possible! It’s scary not knowing what to expect pain-wise, but do your research. If this is something you think you might be interested in, talk to every person you know that’s done it. I spent time with several women who planned natural births, or attempted to do so. They gave me wonderful tips on laboring methods, what to expect, and even encouraging truth to focus on.
I knew I could have a natural birth because my mother gave birth to my older sisters naturally. I would ask her what it was like, and she would always say,
“Just don’t freak out. Once you freak out, you’ve lost it.”
So that was my goal; to come to the delivery room, informed enough, that I would be able to not freak out and give birth, naturally. However, I was always willing to listen to my doctor. If he said something was wrong, I was not going to cling to my birth plan to save a dollar… I wanted my baby to be safe.
(Amount saved: minimum 130+ per month for glucose monitoring supplies)
This sounds silly, but it’s kind of like brushing your teeth. The better you take care of your teeth the less money you spend on cavity fillings and root canals. Right? So it is with eating well in pregnancy. The better you eat, the healthier weight you gain and less likely you are to fail those stinky glucose tests and have to have more testing and more monitoring and so on and so forth.
Bring Your Own Medicine
(Amount Saved: 700+)
Just before having my daughter I tracked down an old hospital bill from my first delivery. I wanted to know everything I paid for (in doctor language) so I knew what to avoid, if possible. My biggest charges? Self-administered drugs. Every time someone showed up to give me a Percocet, Motrin, Tylenol or a vitamin… I got a 7-12 dollar charge! It was ridiculous. At my 39 week appointment, I talked to my OB about prescribing me my pain killers early. This way I could just bring them to the hospital. My husband kept them in his overnight bag in the car so we didn’t break any hospital rules, and when I needed one he would get it for me. I also had my doctor write on my chart that I was allowed to take any medicine I brought with me. If you don’t do this, the hospital is required to confiscate your medicine and distribute it to you. Then you will pay every time they bring you one of YOUR pills. I also loaded my hospital bag with my own stash of Tylenol, Motrin, and prenatal vitamins.
Bring Your Own… Girlie Supplies
(Amount Saved: 500+)
Also under “Self Administered Drugs” are all those wonderful numbing sprays and pads and creams that help with the lingering discomfort of pushing a human our of your body. They too cost crazy money. A simple money saver is to purchase the generic versions of all those supplies. I googled the medical name of anything I didn’t understand and found it’s generic counterpart at Wal-mart. (i.e.: switching out Witch-Hazel pads for good old TUCKS).
Basic list of girlie supplies to shop for:
Benzocaine spray– numbing spray
Witch hazel pads– Tuck
Talk to Your Nurses
In my birth plan, I – as kindly as possible – made sure the nurses knew I didn’t want anything they were offering as far as pain goes. If I needed extra pain killer, I’d let them know. It sounds rude, but actually they were very understanding.
My letter to the nurses:
Birth Plan/ Post-Partum requests:
__________________ is my OB. I have discussed all the following with him and have received his approval to do as such.
During labor I would like…
- To labor standing up and be able to move freely around the room.
- For my water to break naturally
- To receive intermittent monitoring (8 min. on 15 min off) as long as my water has not broken or unless my 8 minutes of monitoring reveals stress for the baby or me.
- To NOT receive any pain medication during labor (ie: stadol, epidural, etc.) unless I request it.
- Once arrived, please stamp the babies hands and feet on the special paper we provide! Thank you!
- After the delivery do not offer me any pain medication. If I need it, I will request it.
- I have brought my own vitamins and do not want any given to me at the hospital.
- I do not want a SITS bath or any of the materials associated with it.
- I will bring my own breast pump and do NOT want any new breast pump materials to be given to me.
- I would like to have a copy of my chart and all the charges (itemized) made to my account at discharge. This is to make sure nothing was accidentally put on my chart that I will later be charged for.
- I do not want any of the following pain killers or soothers given to me:
- Pramoxine—relieves itching
- Benzocaine spray
- Witch hazel pads
- Docusate-stool softener
- Anusol– hemorrhoids
- Sits bath
- Phenergan—nausea medicine
Follow Up With Your Bill
This may sound extreme, but I knew I’d worked hard and had saved some money, so waiting for the bill to show up was exciting. And when it did, I immediately called and requested an itemized version. This lists out, in wonderful detail, everything that was charged to your bill, and it’s how we discovered I’d been charged for an IV I never had and Percocet I’d never requested. My bill was easily contested, and those charges were removed.
Trying to save money during pregnancy is possible. It takes planning, some direction and a little perseverance, but it is possible. I am passionate about this simply because, with the rising cost of health care, it would be sad if our family size was determined by the price tag of giving birth. I don’t want to see that happen to me or anyone else.
Have you cut the cost of your labor and delivery bill? Tell me how!