Patient Centered Care

Health Care has been in the news a lot lately. Several weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was constitutional and there has been a lot of uproar. On Facebook the mother of one of my really good friends assured me that this was the worst thing that had ever happened to our country.

But I’m not here to talk about my opinion on this piece of legislation (okay, I think it’s great). I’m here to talk about how health insurance affects the kind of care that we get. Specifically, the kind of care that women get during and after pregnancy. Because, quite frankly, it makes no sense to me.

I used to be covered under Nathan’s health insurance (okay, I am technically until August 1st). Under that plan maternity care is covered 100%. I don’t have to pay a dime for my prenatal visits, delivery, and any postnatal care I might need if I give birth in a hospital. That means that they have to pay nearly $30,000 to my clinic and hospital over the course of my pregnancy (seriously, it’s not cheap.)  However, if I chose to give birth at home or a birth center they would cover absolutely nothing. Even though the average midwife charges $4,000 for prenatal visits, delivery, and postnatal care. Birth Centers are somewhere in the middle.

Under my new plan (I got a new job so now I have my own insurance) maternity care in a hospital is covered 100%.  “Out of Network” they would cover 50%, which means that for a home birth they would pay somewhere around $2,000 and we would pay the other $2,000.

At this point you may be asking “Rachel, what’s the big deal? If you don’t want (or can’t) pay anything, just give birth in a hospital.” And you would be totally valid in asking this question. I’ve asked myself this question a lot in recent weeks and this is my conclusion: Home births are, on average, safer for the mother and the baby. There are less likely to be complications and unnecessary interventions.  Women are actually more healthy and generally better off if they have their babies at home.

So, with all this health care reform I have to ask, are health insurance companies going to change their policies?  Are women going to be able to financially do whatever it is that they want to do when it comes to their births?  I don’t know, but I certainly hope so.

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