Though HealthShares were generally designed to help with unexpected, unfortunate medical expenses, maternity—unexpected or not—is usually eligible for sharing. Most HealthShares offer maternity sharing, but not all share expenses the same way.
Some HealthShares only include maternity care with top-tier plans, and others may only share expenses related to your OB/GYN appointments. What’s more, many HealthShares have specific maternity sharing limits.
If you are considering joining a HealthShare, or already belong to a HealthShare community and have parenthood in mind, let’s look at some of the questions you might have.
How will my maternity need affect my member responsibility?
Your HealthShare likely has a separate member responsibility amount for maternity needs. This may come in the form of a fee or a separate unshared amount. Whatever your HealthShare calls it, you may pay a little more for a maternity need than you would for other needs. For example, Altrua HealthShare has a set $5,000 maternity unshared amount; the CHM Gold plan has a set $500 member responsibility amount per pregnancy; and United Refuah HealthShare charges a “Pregnancy Fee” from $0–$2,500, depending on the number of members in your household membership.
In general, the main goal for your HealthShare is to reduce overall costs and thus reduce the burden on the whole community —yourself included. With this in mind, your HealthShare will expect you to do some leg work. If you can obtain a deep discount with a prepayment plan, your HealthShare may share this expense even before the baby is born. However, many HealthShares will not share in maternity costs until your baby is born and you submit final bills.
Should I expect any maternity need restrictions?
You may encounter several hurdles on the path to maternity need sharing. For starters, you must be a member when you conceive. Furthermore, if you conceive before your initial waiting period (typically 60-90 days) is over, your maternity will not be shareable. Be sure to consider any potential waiting periods during family planning.
Other specific restrictions regarding maternity eligibility will be tied to your HealthShare’s member guidelines and statement of belief or standards. In short, the statement that you sign when you join your HealthShare may prohibit sharing in the maternity expenses of an unmarried woman.
Your HealthShares may not specifically state that pregnancies for unwed mothers are not eligible. However, if a member does not follow the member guidelines, their needs may not be eligible for sharing. The following excerpt from Samaritan Ministries member guidelines is an example of the kind of language in a statement of beliefs that may affect your maternity need: members agree to “abstain from any sexual activity outside of traditional Biblical marriage as designed by God between one man and one woman.”
This type of restriction is common, even expected, in the industry, which is largely rooted in religious belief. Yet, there are a few HealthShares like Sedera, Zion Health, and Sharity Ministries that will share in the maternity of a single member or an unmarried member. In any case, your HealthShare may require proof that you were an active member when you conceived. This proof may be in the form of a doctor’s note with the official due date.
One HealthShare, Sedera, may consider sharing for a pregnancy conceived prior to membership, but in a limited manner.
What if I am planning a home birth?
Some, but not all, HealthShares include sharing for alternative labor and delivery locations or providers. Since these are generally less expensive than a hospital delivery, some HealthShares may reduce the standard maternity responsibility amount. For example, both Sedera and Zion Health may reduce your unshareable amount by half if the charges for a home birth or birthing center are significantly lower than a hospital delivery. Always double-check your member guidelines to make sure your birth plan aligns with services eligible for sharing.
What about care for my newborn?
As long as your pregnancy is eligible for sharing, your newborn can easily be added to your membership. If the pregnancy is not eligible, you will likely have a 30-day wait before you may add the infant to your membership.
Shareable expenses for your newborn will include services like an in-hospital pediatrician appointment and some immunizations. After a few initial services, your baby is considered a new member whose needs require a separate member responsibility amount.
What if I can’t get pregnant?
It seems that more couples are finding it difficult to conceive and opting to pursue adoption, surrogacy, or fertility treatment. If you find yourself in this situation, there is some good news and bad news. The bad news is that HealthShare communities will not share in fertility or surrogacy expenses —whether or not the surrogate is a member. The good news is that most programs will share healthcare costs for adopted children as though they were your biological children; however, not all will share in direct adoption expenses. If you think you might want to adopt, check out Altrua HealthShare and Medi-Share. These two HealthShares will share in expenses related to adoption as though it were a maternity need.
A viable option
HealthShares offer effective ways to handle your maternity expenses. If parenthood might be in your future, check the particulars of the maternity sharing detailed by your HealthShare’s member guidelines.