The first baby of the new year is always a highly celebrated moment, with traditions supposedly going back as far as ancient Greece. The lucky child is sometimes even awarded scholarships, gifts and free meals! But behind the scenes, it’s likely the babe’s parents are paying much more in healthcare costs than the average birth (possibly double!), especially if they went in to the hospital the night before.
How do I know this? Its two days before the new year rolls in and I am currently sitting on my couch as still as possible hoping I don’t go into labor. Here’s what I am up against (as well as almost 11,000 families who give welcome new babies each day in this country):
My insurance plan through United Healthcare runs via calendar year, meaning that every year, my deductible and max out of pocket reset at midnight on December 31st. So if I go into labor and arrive at the hospital before that time, and then receive care at the hospital into the new year, I will be paying not one but two deductibles and two max out of pockets. In my case, this makes a difference of about $4,000. Yes, you read that right. If I have a baby on New Years' Eve, my family could pay $8,000 instead of $4,000.
Your OBGYN typically bills you a lump sum for prenatal visits and hospital care either before the year’s end or after (they call this a global charge), which works in your favor in terms of insurance. What really gets you is the bills you incur at the hospital, which are billed based on date of service.
Play it smart
So how can parents avoid this tricky and expensive dilemma? Here are a few strategies.
- Call your provider and ask to schedule an induction a few days before New Years, to make sure you are out of the hospital in time. A friend of mine did this last year and made it out of the hospital with 6 hours to spare!
- Call your insurance company and get the full story. Ask when your plan starts over. Figure out how much of your deductible you have satisfied so far. Know the numbers before the big day so you aren’t blind-sided by the bills weeks later when you are sleep deprived with your sweet little one.
- If you are planning on growing your family, think twice before getting pregnant in May / June! Do the math. You run the risk of giving birth over New Years.
- If you are planning on getting pregnant, don’t sign up for a high-deductible plan in the event the due date is around New Years. Two “high” deductibles and max out of pockets are a much bigger problem than a lower deductible and max out of pocket paid twice.
- If this ends up happening to you, collect your child tax credit, enjoy your new bundle of joy and know that there are payment plans to help you if needed. Bills shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying the special day and embracing the big changes in your family.
Take Command Health is here to help
For new moms, keeping track of all the necessary appointments and the bills that follow them can be very confusing, especially when you have your hands full with your new addition. It's good to have a few tricks in your back pocket, and through our membership plan, you can do just that. Call a doctor 24/7 for free, let us negotiate those hospital bills for you, and enjoy prescription and dental discounts. We think new moms can use all the help they can get!