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Where can a pregnant woman get maternity coverage?

I'm assuming you don't have access to employment-based coverage through your job or your spouse's job.

Unfortunately, insurance companies consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition. If you're already pregnant, you'll find it very difficult to purchase an individual health insurance plan that offers maternity coverage. However, depending on your state, you may be able to get insurance through Medicaid or your state’s high-risk insurance pool.

Health insurance coverage through state-sponsored programs

The rules for Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women vary by state, but all states must cover pregnant women with incomes under about $20,000 as an individual. Many states cover pregnant women with higher incomes under Medicaid, and some states cover pregnant women through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

To learn whether you might be eligible, check with the department in your state that administers Medicaid. Your child will automatically be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for up to one year if you're enrolled in either program when the baby is born.

The high-risk insurance pool option

Many states have high-risk insurance programs for people with pre-existing conditions that can't otherwise qualify for coverage. Check with your state's department of insurance to see if it has such a program. In addition, states and the federal government have set up new high-risk insurance pools, which are designed to provide people protection until 2014 when insurers will be prohibited from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy. To qualify for enrollment in a high-risk insurance pool, an applicant must have been without health insurance for at least six months.

The federal government's Healthcare.gov site provides further helpful information for pregnant women.

If you do not qualify for any of the state or federal insurance programs, contact your county health department to learn about low-cost prenatal and delivery services offered in your area.

For more, see pregnancy complicates health insurance options.

Last updated: Dec. 29, 2010