What Do You Do When Your Wife Is Pregnant And You Have No Health Insurance?
When my wife and I left behind our traditional health insurance in July 2014, we had no idea where we would end up almost one year later. It can be scary not knowing how you will pay for something like a pregnancy if you didn’t have insurance, which is one of the biggest reasons why we joined Christian Healthcare Ministries.
When my wife was working as a NICU nurse at a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska we were blessed to have traditional health insurance. And when she was pregnant we knew that the health insurance would pay for the majority of the doctor visits as well as the hospital stay.
What we didn’t know was how much we would still pay out of pocket! It felt like every time we had a ‘checkup’ appointment we were paying $180+ out of pocket, not only just the checkup appointments but all of the testing, ultrasounds and stress test towards the end of her pregnancy.
We had a large deductible but it felt like our health insurance wasn’t really doing us any good. What was the point if we are paying a monthly premium and still paying for every single visit. We hit our out-of-pocket maximum at the birth of our son, but even then we still had a few more bills that came through.
With as much money we paid for all of the doctor visits it got me curious how much we would have paid if we were ‘self-pay’. You see, most clinics/doctors have a set ‘self-pay’ rate for those who are uninsured. Since they don’t have to mess with the insurance companies they give you a larger discount on the cost of services. I wonder how much the insurance companies take from the doctors, which makes them raise their rates?
Fast forward to April 2015…
…and we find out that we are having another baby! Since we don’t have traditional health insurance we are now self-paying for all of our care with the ‘hopes’ that Christian Healthcare Ministries will back us up on the cost of this pregnancy. We could have signed up for ObamaCare, but our monthly premium was $683 with a $7,000 deductible, something we felt was a huge burden (not to mention the morality of supporting abortions when the new healthcare law passed, but was recently amended).
Be Bold & Ask For Their Self Pay Rates
As soon as we found out we were having another baby, my wife started searching for a few different women’s clinics near our home. It was my job to call their billing departments and ask what their ‘self-pay’ rates were.
At first it was kind of odd asking for discounts or what the clinics ‘self-pay’ rate was, but each person I spoke to was courteous and nice to talk with. I wrote everything down and after we looked over our options we chose the clinic we felt was best for our family.
What I found was most clinics have a set rate for those who are self-pay. I’ve asked for a discount, but they say the rates they give are set and cannot be modified. They do however help lower the cost of any additional test (blood test, urine test, ultra sounds, etc.) Be sure you ask about any programs they may be involved in that will help lower the cost of the ‘lab’ work.
Our First Experience With Being Self-Pay Patients
It’s standard policy to have blood work done when you are in the early stages of a pregnancy. At our first appointment, the clinic gave us a form that said we were self-pay/uninsured, and we were supposed to give that form to the blood lab.
The woman who was helping us at the blood testing facility at first didn’t see that note and told us our bill was going to be $498! I was about to see if we could get a discount or what their policy was for uninsured/self-pay patients, when she looked at the form again and noticed the note. She then apologized and re-calculated the total and said it was $189 a difference of $309!
When you join Christian Healthcare Ministries, any discounts you receive that you can document are put towards your ‘personal responsibility‘ amount. Since my wife is a Gold member, we have to pay the first $500 of the maternity cost. If I could have gotten this blood facility to show that discount, we could have had that amount taken off of our $500 member responsibility amount.. lesson learned.
Be sure to always get documentation of discounts applied to your bills! Since we are self-pay patients it will help lower our health care cost as well as there could be a benefit depending on what Christian HealthShare Ministry you join.
This was our first time dealing with being self-pay patients and now that we have had to file a claim with CHM I want to document our experience with the whole process.
Be Sure You Know Your Numbers/Costs
The women’s clinic we chose charges a self-pay rate of $3,500. That includes all of the pre-delivery visits as well as 1 ultrasound. Extra cost include your first check up and blood test. Additional test are also sent to a lab, but are also discounted. You may want to check with your clinic to see if they can work with you regarding these extra test.
The clinic we are going to joined a plan with the testing facility where they give discounts to uninsured patients. I only found this out after we received 2 separate bills for $84.36 and another for $58.41. I called the facility and asked them if that rate was for self-pay patients, I was told ‘Yes’. I paid the 2 bills and a few weeks later they refunded them.
I called back and they said that someone didn’t post the correct amounts as they didn’t give us the uninsured rates. They said the clinic we are going to was apart of a program with them that helped uninsured patients. They revised our bills and sent 2 new ones for $30 and the second for $25, another savings of $87.
So far with the self-pay rates and the discounts we have obtained, we have saved $396 and owe $3150 to the women’s clinic before my wife is 28 week along.
The above image is an example of a self-pay rate for maternity care. If you pay the full balance before the 28th week of pregnancy you are given a discount of $1,150. Had we been paying for ObamaCare, we would have spent $4,098 just in premiums so far this year, not to mention the other cost of going to the women’s clinic and the blood test.
Do you believe we would have been given the discount of $396 so far? … Probably not! We would have to pay for those cost as well.
I will be updating this section with a link to our experience with Christian Healthcare Ministries. We have submitted the paperwork for their ‘Needs Processing’ department. We are hoping they send a check that will cover the maternity visits, otherwise we will put the $3,150 on a credit card in order to get the $1,150 discount.