This is a guest post by Stephanie Lynch, the co-founder of howmuchist.org, the Internet’s largest cost-helping database.
Preparing for a newborn is a fun and exciting time; however, as the bearer of bad news, a lot of bills can come along with your pregnancy and when your newborn is born, even if you have a health insurance policy and your newborn is 100% healthy.
Since most policies, especially in today’s economy, require you spend thousands to meet your deductible, you could be paying $2,000, $6,000 or even $10,000 out of your pocket before your insurance even kicks in! That’s a lot of dough.
Considering most of us don’t want to spend this kind of money, I wanted to share 10 ways you can at least attempt to save a few hundred or even thousand dollars.
1. Call up hospitals for quotes
When I had my first born, my husband was self-employed, and at the time, I had no idea insurance for the self-employed didn’t cover anything maternity related. What this meant was that we have to pay cash for everything, leading to a ton of bills in the end. Since the delivery was the most expensive part, I went ahead and called a few hospitals in my area, and to my surprise, most were able to give me a “ballpark” over the phone. Do this with at least three to five hospitals to see what they can do for you, but don’t just focus on the price, you will want to dig deeper into the hospital’s reputation, reviews from other patients and even explore the maternity ward before committing.
2. Claim your medical expenses
Be sure to save every single bill that relates to your pregnancy because if the amount is large enough, you may be eligible for itemized deductions, which can drastically reduce your income taxes, leading to a higher refund. While I’m no accountant, just trust me on the saving the paperwork part, and when the tax season comes, then you can talk with your accountant to find out how much you can save.
3. Check the network
With the Affordable Care Act, all policies must cover maternity expenses; however, as stated above, it doesn’t mean you will pay nothing as you will still be responsible for your deductible. When choosing an OB/GYN, hospital and any other health provider, make sure they are in network with your insurance to avoid unnecessary bills. This can be done by either calling your insurance company or checking their provider search engine on the official website.
4. Leave the hospital ASAP
Every day you spend the night at the hospital, the more you will be charged. As long as you feel fine after birth and the doctor allows it, try to leave as soon as you can to avoid the hefty overnight stay. Most overnight hospital stays, depending on the geographical location, can cost upwards of $1,500.
5. Ask about cash discounts
Most hospitals, even if you have insurance, will be able to offer you a cash discount if you pay the bill up front. Since we were fortunate enough to do this, we called the hospital and explained our situation. In return, they offered a 55% discount for paying in full. Taking advantage, we put it all on a credit card for reward purposes and paid it off in full the next month. While it doesn’t have to be in cash per se, it may be wise to take out an HELOC or a small personal loan if the interest rate makes sense.
6. Ask for a free breast pump
With the recent laws, many insurance companies offer a breast pump for free, but in order to receive one, you will have to call your insurance company to supply it. If you plan on breastfeeding, call your insurance company before you even go to the hospital so it’s in your hands the day you leave with your baby.
7. Try to plan
If you’re pregnant already, this probably won’t work for you, but if you plan on having another in the future or you’re not pregnant yet, think about this scenario. If you were to have the baby in December or November, this means all of your insurance bills could be in one year, making it much easier to reach your deductible limit. On the flipside, if your baby was born in April, you would have bills spreading out throughout two years. While it could take some work, try having your baby at the end of the year.
8. Apply for financial aid
If you meet certain income requirements with most hospitals, you may be eligible for a steep discount. In fact, sometimes, the hospital may waive the entire fee if you’re living at poverty levels. Talk to the hospital’s billing department to see if you qualify. Most of the time, they will make you fill out some paperwork relating to your finances and will let you know the results within a few days.
Preparing for a pregnancy is hard enough, but if you want to save a few extra dollars that could be placed in your newborn’s college fund or nursery instead of a hospital bill, then these are tips you may want to think about before it’s too late.