Pregnancy is an expensive process, particularly while away from a home country. Pre-natal care and regular doctor’s visits, delivery and post-natal care…..the costs start adding up. If expenses for unforeseen complications are added to the mix, what was initially a few thousand dollars could start escalating into the tens of thousands, and that’s before baby even blesses the world with his or her presence.
Thinking about maternity cover in the early stages of planning for a family is sensible. If a policy is arranged in advance of pregnancy, the standard wait periods – which are inherent in all policies, is satisfied and policy benefits can be fully utilised. A maternity policy ensures mother and baby are well protected throughout pregnancy and delivery, particularly in the event any complications arise during the pregnancy, birth and/or the early days of the child’s life. Such a policy is especially important if an adverse event occurs during the birth and baby needs additional support such as a stay in a neonatal unit.
Types of Cover and Policy Benefits
Maternity cover is an add-on benefit to many international medical insurance policies. Cover includes routine pre-natal care, specialist fees, hospital charges, midwife fees, delivery including emergency c-section, postnatal care, newborn care and typically the life of the newly arrived for the first 30 days. Complications arising during childbirth are also covered, with pregnancy complications usually being covered by an in-patient section of a policy.
There are a number of cost payment options to choose from. Where costs associated with pregnancy and delivery are invoiced directly to the insurer, this is typically referred to as direct-billing. An excess or co-pay option is also available, whereby costs are met personally up to a stipulated amount or percentage, and the remainder paid by the insurer direct to the medical facility of choice.
These options vary depending on the insurer and their policies. Not all insurers offer direct-billing in all countries, therefore low cost scans and check-ups are likely to be on a pay-and-claim basis, which means costs are met personally and then claimed from the insurer. If this option is chosen, it is important to know the reimbursement timeframes that an insurer generally follows.
Most private hospitals provide birthing packages. To avoid paying out-of-pocket for high-cost specialised care, it is beneficial to request pre-authorisation. This is important in order to ensure that reimbursement amounts are not reduced by the insurer through failing to act on this type of clause inherent in most policies.
Depending on the level of cover chosen, certain limits may be applied to particular benefits. This will determine the quality of medical facility one might choose for pre-natal, delivery and post-natal care for example.
A wait period is a timeframe stipulated by the insurer under which they will not cover any expenses related to pregnancy. The wait period can vary between 10-12 months. Arranging maternity cover far enough in advance of starting a family is therefore important to ensure all of the benefits available under are policy are delivered from the beginning of a pregnancy, rather than having to pay some of the expenses personally.
If pregnancy occurs during the wait period, all costs need to be met personally until the end of the wait period. As long as the birth occurs after the renewal of the policy, any subsequent care or treatment will be covered up to the limits noted for maternity benefits.
Second Baby and Beyond
If a policy that was established for a previous pregnancy has remained unchanged, it’s likely all benefits are already in place. This means no wait period is applicable and any complications that may have arisen during the previous pregnancy or birth will be covered.
For those who are thinking of changing insurers but are still considering a second or subsequent child or children, it will be important to consider all the options prior to committing to any possible change.
Likewise, serious consideration will need to be given before any possible change where complications arose in an earlier pregnancy or birth, as an insurer is likely to consider these as pre-existing conditions and may exclude such conditions. These might include for example the development of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or requiring a caesarean section to facilitate the safe arrival of baby.
Continuing an existing policy will close out the risk of having conditions excluded under a policy.
A change in insurers before completing a family can result in severely limited cover, so it is important to weigh up the options carefully.
Pregnancy is viewed as a pre-existing condition by all international insurers, therefore cover for maternity-related treatment cannot be obtained. However provision is made by some insurers to cover pregnancy complications, therefore some protection can be put in place to cover worst-case scenarios.
Medical treatment for newborns is notoriously expensive and could easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if a stay in a neonatal unit is required, so it is worth considering the options available if you are already pregnant, as some form of cover is better than none at all.
Newborn plans cover any medical treatment required due to complications, illness or injury from the day baby joins the world, and includes routine care such as doctor’s visits and vaccinations.
Most in-patient sections of expatriate policies include some form of cover and is set for a period of 30-90 days, and up to a set amount. Adding your child to your policy within that period will mean the status of your child’s health won’t be assessed and any conditions he/she is born with will be covered by the child’s policy moving forward.
How We Help!
Arranging a policy to ensure quality care is available both before and after baby arrives is important to ensure financial distractions are mitigated and the focus can rest on the more important task of nurturing a pregnancy through to delivery.
Global Albatross is a specialist advisory that focuses solely on international medical insurance for expatriates. If you have a query regarding your current maternity cover, we can answer it. If you are considering starting a family and want options, we can provide them.
Maternity cover is a vital aspect of your pregnancy while overseas. Our impartial advice will assist you in making an informed decision on the cover that best suits your situation, needs and budget. We highlight the differences between insurer’s maternity plans and also point out the differences in their servicing abilities, responsiveness and claims pay-out timeframes. Our philosophy is, if we wouldn’t buy it for ourselves, we won’t recommend it.
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