How Dads Can Keep Cool in Pregnancy-Related Monetary Emergencies

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

Remember guys, not all pregnancy emergencies involve medical crises: Some are all about cold, hard cash — or the lack of it. You may have taken a quick glance at your health insurance policy before you got pregnant, just to make sure you had the sterling coverage you thought you had.

You may have even checked the limits of coverage without ever dreaming that you might rack up a hospital bill of more than a million dollars for one little baby.

You may also have a new insurance provider and policy under the Affordable Care Act and don’t fully understand your coverage. Worse, you may have let your policy lapse just before getting pregnant — surprise!

It’s possible (probable, even, if you’re normally a healthy twosome) that you have no idea what your insurance actually covers. Take time to dig through the drawers and find that policy because pregnancy illnesses and hospitalization costs can blow your socks off.

Many hospitals today have counselors who help educate you on your fiscal responsibilities before they let you walk out the door, but it’s nice to know your coverage ahead of time.

If you find yourself without insurance or with minimal coverage, ask your healthcare provider or your local hospital about your options sooner rather than later. Community resources are likely available to help with prenatal care or baby care if you’re experiencing financial hardship, and you may get the most benefit from them if you look into these resources ahead of time.

How to check out your insurance limits

Most insurance policies clearly list their limits, including a lifetime benefit amount. Insurance policies also may list your maximum obligation, or deductible, for the year. For example, you may have a cap of $5,000 on your out-of-pocket expenses for a year, meaning your insurance company pays everything else. However, you may have to pay every penny of your deductible before benefits kick in.

How dads cover the cost of unexpected medical expenses

Even the best insurance plans leave you footing a certain portion of the medical expenses. Over the next six months, don’t be surprised to receive separate bills from every wing and department of the hospital in which you stay.

A 2013 study reported that nearly 2 million bankruptcies a year are related to unpaid medical bills. Even with insurance, using up your limits can leave you with a hefty bill. Most hospitals have a social worker or debt counselor who can work with you on unexpected costs that aren’t covered by your insurance. Most have debt repayment plans, and many will reduce the bill in some circumstances.

You may be able to get some aid from the hospital’s charity program or, if your child has an unusual medical condition, from a foundation involved in the disease.

The main thing to do when faced with a bill that equals the national debt is not to panic. You have options, and you need to investigate them. You also need to be upfront with the hospital from the beginning about your coverage so you have time to resolve things before the hospital threatens to hold your partner or baby hostage. (Don’t worry, it won’t.)

Mistakes happen, and they can be difficult to find. Hospital bills generally list only the total charge and not each item individually.

If at any point your bill doesn’t make sense — or it seems like you’re paying for the same thing twice or for something you didn’t receive — ask your hospital’s billing department for an itemized receipt. It’s a lengthy document to comb through, but it allows you to challenge mistakes and suspect charges, and it may save you money.