This is a Guest Post by Scott.
According to a recent study in Nurse Midwifery, the average homebirth that doesn’t have any complications costs about 68% less than a comparable hospital birth! When you add this to the fact that a homebirth with an excellent midwife is much less likely to land you with an unnecessary cesarean delivery, and the savings of a homebirth can be quite significant.
However, financing a homebirth is quite different, often times, from financing a hospital birth. Here’s what you need to know:
If you didn’t have insurance, a hospital birth – uncomplicated and vaginal – would cost around $7,600. With insurance, most people pay about $1,500 to $2,300 out of pocket. This, of course, depends on your actual insurance coverage. It also depends on what area of the country you’re giving birth in, which medications you end up using, how long you stay in the hospital, and many other factors.
The average midwife-based home birth costs about $2,000 to $3,000. For some midwives, this fee covers all of the pre-birth consultations, as well, which can present significant savings. With a hospital birth, keep in mind that you must pay not only the hospital but also your practitioner for services the day of the birth as well as services in the months leading up to the birth.
One of the many reasons some couples choose not to go with a home birth is that they assume insurance will not cover it. This isn’t always true, though! Some insurance providers – including major providers like United Healthcare – now provide at least some coverage for midwives. Your insurance provider may pay part of the pre-birth fees, even if the actual home birth itself isn’t paid for.
However, never assume that your insurance won’t pay simply because homebirth is still rather unorthodox. Many insurance companies are coming to grips with the fact that midwives tend to offer more cost-effective care than traditional obstetricians! If it’s more cost-effective for you, then it’s more cost-effective for them, too.
When your insurance covers a hospital birth, you may be required to pay the fees up front before your due date. Many hospitals these days will check the insurance coverage of the pregnant woman and provide her with a payment plan leading up to the birth, and they’ll require that the fees for a regular vaginal birth be paid in full in the last month or two of pregnancy. If a c-section is required, the patient will have to pay even more out of pocket afterwards.
Midwives who work in homebirth may do something similar. It depends on the practice, though. Some will give you a monthly payment plan so that all your fees will be paid by the time the baby is born. Others will offer a discount if you pay in full up front, and still others will allow you to pay after the baby is born. This is definitely something to think about when you’re talking about financing homebirth, and you may want to compare midwives in your area for how they require patients to pay.
If you have to be transferred
One more thing to think about when financing a homebirth is what happens if you need to be transferred to the hospital. With top-rate midwives dealing with low-risk pregnancies, transfers rates are very low, but you still need to consider the possibility. Chances are likely that your insurance will kick in if you do need to transfer to the hospital, but then you’ll have to pay both the midwife and the hospital. Talk to your midwife about what will happen financially in a situation like this, just so that you can be prepared.
Figuring out how to finance it
If you don’t have enough money in savings at the moment to pay for a homebirth (or even a hospital co-pay for an in-hospital birth!), you may be able to finance your homebirth with a credit card. Consider applying for a low-interest credit card, or one with a limited-time no-interest option. Pay your fees in full up front, especially if this will score you a discount, and then pay off the credit card a little at a time. If you can pay off the card before it starts accruing interest, you’ve basically got a way to finance your homebirth without paying any extra fees.
Costs are only part of it
Many people who don’t have good insurance coverage choose a homebirth in part because it’s just so much more affordable than an uninsured or underinsured hospital birth. However, make sure that cost isn’t the only reason you’re choosing a homebirth. Instead, Jamie Scott from CreditDonkey recommends you get as much information as you can about homebirth, and make your choice based on what’s best for you and your family.