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Does my family health insurance policy cover my teenage daughter if she becomes pregnant?

Your daughter will be covered for maternity care if your health insurance policy includes maternity coverage and she is a dependent on your plan. But your plan probably doesn't extend to your grandchild, so it's best to start investigating options as soon as possible if your daughter becomes pregnant. Otherwise the baby will be born uninsured, which could add financial stress to what an already challenging time for your daughter and the whole family.

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Uninsured medical costs multiply quickly if the baby is born prematurely or with health problems, such as cardiac or circulatory birth defects or respiratory distress. The average cost of treating neonatal complications is $13,000, and a hospital stay alone is $2,000 a day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

If your family cannot afford private health insurance coverage for the baby, check to see if your daughter can be enrolled in the federal Medicaid program, which provides coverage for people who meet low-income requirements. Many teen moms qualify because they usually have no income. Infants of teen moms also can be enrolled instantly in temporary Medicaid after they're born in the hospital. The coverage lasts three months.

Check with your State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) if the baby doesn't qualify for Medicaid because your family's income is too high. California's Healthy Families is an example of an SCHIP. You have to wait until after the birth - but before the baby turns one month old - to enroll the child. If you're daughter becomes pregnant, work with her to check out options before the birth to streamline the application process.

Here's more about health insurance for teen pregnancy.

Last updated: Oct. 7, 2010
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