Plan Ahead with Maternity Insurance
If you’re thinking about starting or extending your family while living in Southeast Asia, then this article is for you.
If you’re at all considering adding someone to your family in the next few years, the time to consider your expat maternity insurance options is now! If you don’t consider the insurance implications early, you can expose your family to financial risk. “Early” means at least a year in advance of when you want to get pregnant.
Waiting Periods & Conception Date
A pregnancy is unusual in that it’s one of the few medical conditions requiring treatment that people actually want and can control. For this reason, all personal health insurance policies have waiting periods for maternity benefits. During a waiting period, the policy will not cover any maternity-related benefits.
Once you reach the last day of your waiting period, your maternity expenses become eligible for coverage. (If your pregnancy spans two policy years, you’ll need to renew your plan before the maternity benefits become eligible.)
If you conceive during your waiting period, you need to be aware of the timing of your benefits. If it fits your plans it’s generally better to wait until as close to your waiting period is over as possible in order to limit the period in which complications and prenatal checkups would be excluded.
Explanation of Maternity Benefits
Routine Delivery: A good maternity policy will cover the cost of a normal birth, without complications, including pre- and post-natal visits, hospitalization expenses, doctors’ fees and other related expenses.
Complications: Many policies will cover the cost in the unfortunate event of a difficult pregnancy or birth. Some examples:
- Abnormal cell growth in the womb
- Ectopic pregnancy
Newborn Care: Some higher-end policies will include a newborn care benefit to cover their expenses during the first days of life, without needing to add them as covered individuals under the main policy.
Sample Maternity Insurance
Here’s a look of how three sample provider benefits:
|Provider A||Provider B||Provider C|
|Routine Delivery||2,000 USD||4,000 USD||8,000 USD|
|Complications||(included in 2,000 USD)||Fully covered||Fully covered|
|Newborn Care||n/a||Covered under regular health insurance plan||100,000 USD for first 30 day of life|
|Maternity Waiting Period||12 months||10 months||10 months|
|Baby Covered From||15 days after birth||At birth||At birth|
Some local providers will group routine delivery together with complications benefits, with the same maximum. This limits their exposure and allows them to offer more attractive premiums, whereas international providers tend to provide full coverage for complications, which can involve very high claims.
How Providers Offer Maternity Benefits
Most providers offer maternity coverage separately from core benefits, because many customers simply don’t need it. Many, many people are not aware that such add-on maternity benefits must be elected at the time of purchase or at renewal – you can’t decide you want coverage during a policy year. Again, if having a child is in your future, you need to start planning early.
Some higher-end policies include complications in their inpatient coverage, without the need to add maternity to the policy. These policies wouldn’t cover prenatal visits or the delivery itself, but would pay for some complications.
Your Child’s Plan
After the birth, you’ll want to insure your child. With almost all providers, the mother’s plan is the only available option – family members can’t mix and match benefits. Newborns and infants typically incur lots of outpatient expenses for postnatal care: checkups, vaccinations, etc. Keep this in mind as you choose the family policy – if you want these expenses to be covered, you may need to elect a plan with outpatient benefits for everyone.
When Newborn Coverage Begins
With most international providers, the baby is covered from birth so long as you follow the waiting period rules and timely notify the provider.
If you’re considering a local insurer, be sure you understand the policy limitations. Many allow you to add the baby to the plan only X number of days after birth, and subject to underwriting. If the baby has medical problems during that period after birth, these providers will not cover them.
Cost to Add a Child
Adding a child to your plan involves a cost, of course. The rate is usually prorated until the end of the policy year, something to consider as you chose a policy with maternity benefits.
Consider that some providers offer free coverage for second child, or discounted rates for having more than one child on a plan.
If You’re Already Pregnant
If you’re already pregnant, then the reality is that you won’t find a policy to cover delivery or complications, but you can still mitigate your financial situation:
Find a plan that will cover your child from birth. There are child-only policies available if your plan isn’t the right choice.
Check whether your own policy already includes coverage for complications.
How Employers Handle Maternity Insurance
If you’re an expat who’s insured through your company, you should be sure you understand the policy. Adding comprehensive maternity coverage is very expensive, so to save costs, most companies that insure expats either leave it off or offer limited benefits.
So even if you do have some coverage for maternity, you’ll want to check your coverage levels for routine delivery and complications. You’d also want to check when the baby is covered and whether any congenital conditions are covered.
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These articles are intended to give you enough information to make informed decisions, but health insurance is complicated. Whether you still have questions on this topic or feel ready to take the first steps toward getting a policy, our advisors can help.
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