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5 health care questions to ask when you’re starting a family

Alice Gomstyn By Alice Gomstyn

Child listening to mother's pregnant belly

Long before I realized I had a little person growing in my belly, I debated what I might name him or her and how long I’d wait to learn the baby’s gender. Then I realized that the more important questions were about health care coverage for my future pregnancy and newborn. Exploring your insurance options before you get pregnant means you’ll know just what to look for during open enrollment time. Here are the maternity insurance concerns that should top your list:

1. What doctors will I use during my pregnancy?

If you’re trying to get pregnant, now’s a good time to take a long, hard look at your relationship with your current Ob/Gyn. This is, after all, the person who could be delivering your child. If you’re considering choosing a new obstetrician or a midwife, it helps to get recommendations from family and friends. You could also ask for suggestions in mom-focused Facebook groups or look at websites that specialize in doctor reviews.

Then find out which of your potential plans lists any of those physicians in network. With an in-network doctor, you’ll save money on maternity care and delivery. Aetna members can use Docfind to see patient ratings and reviews for in-network doctors. This same process can be used for choosing a pediatrician down the road.

2. At which hospital or birthing center will I deliver my baby?

After choosing your Ob/Gyn or midwife, you’ll want to find out at which facilities they have admitting privileges. Without those privileges, a hospital can reject an obstetrician’s request to treat you there. Check the practice’s website for hospital affiliations, or ask their office. Then visit your health insurer’s website to see whether those hospitals are in your plan’s network. In addition to doctor listings, Aetna’s DocFind allows you to search for in-network facilities, as well as those that have earned special honors for baby safety and breastfeeding support.

If you’re fortunate enough to have more than one choice nearby, you’ll need to decide which one you like more. Many hospitals offer tours of their maternity ward for that reason. On the tour, ask yourself:

  • Is the facility clean? Secure?
  • Are the rooms spacious? Will you have to share a room with another new mother? And if you’d prefer a private room, will insurance cover the cost?
  • Is your partner allowed to sleep in the room with you?
  • Will your newborn room with you or in a separate nursery?

3. What maternity coverage does my health plan offer?

So you’ve narrowed down which health pros and facility you want to use, and made sure they’re in network under your preferred insurance plan. Next, check with your insurance provider to see what pregnancy and delivery-related services are covered. You’ll want to know about basics like prenatal tests, as well as special offerings such as acupuncture for treating morning sickness. Aetna’s Member Payment Estimator lets you compare the cost of vaginal delivery versus c-section. And it may seem far off, but if you plan to breastfeed, now’s the time to look into breastfeeding-related benefits such as coverage for breast pump purchases and lactation consultant services.

4. When should I notify my insurance about my pregnancy?

You don’t need to tell your insurer that you’re pregnant immediately…but it’s worth doing as soon as you’re ready. That’s because insurance companies often provide free resources to pregnant women (learn more below) to help you take care of yourself and prepare for parenthood. If you plan on having your baby covered by your insurance plan, then you’ll definitely want to notify your insurance of your child’s birth. Many Aetna plans automatically cover newborns for the first 31 days after birth. To officially add your newborn to your plan, you’ll need to contact your benefits administrator.

5. What other maternity resources may be available to me through my plan?

Your health insurance provider can often connect you with helpful, free resources. Aetna’s Beginning Right Maternity Program, for example, provides information on everything from dental health during pregnancy to helping fathers prepare for a newborn. Women facing specific pregnancy risks are assigned nurse case managers to monitor those risks, while those who smoke are urged to join a smoking cessation program just for moms-to-be. Other great sources of information include Text4Baby, a free service that sends three text messages a week with expert babycare tips, and the March of Dimes website, which presents a wealth of information on prenatal and postpartum care.

Once you get these important questions answered, feel free to dive back into the fun stuff, like baby name research. Just remember that no matter what you call your little bundle of joy, taking care of your health needs before his or her arrival is one of the best ways to show your love.

About the author

Alice Gomstyn is a veteran parenting blogger and business reporter. She is an admitted sugar addict but plans to cut back on the sweet stuff and load up on veggies like never before. Bring on the broccoli!