Becoming a new parent can be an overwhelming experience. Your priorities and lifestyle change and you have many new practical concerns in coping with the addition of a new member to your family. However, in the midst of changing diapers and 2 a.m. feedings, don't forget to ensure that your newborn has adequate health insurance coverage.
Once your baby is born, he is a separate person and needs his own health insurance coverage. That insurance will help you pay for all his health-care needs, from regular checkups from a pediatrician to prescriptions to emergency care. You probably would not be able to afford to cover these costs without insurance.
Types of Insurance
At first, your newborn baby needs only medical and prescription coverage. She doesn't need dental coverage because she doesn't have teeth, and she doesn't need vision coverage because her pediatrician will check her eyes at each visit. You can add her as a dependent to your medical coverage, and then add dental coverage and vision coverage later, if you choose.
How to Enroll
Shortly after your baby is born, you'll receive his birth certificate in the mail. You will need this document to enroll your baby in your insurance policy. If you have insurance through your employer, talk to your human resources department to get the appropriate paperwork. If you have private insurance, talk to your agent or insurer. Most insurers require you to enroll your baby within 30 days of his birth. If you enroll him within this time frame, the coverage is retroactive to the time of his birth.
Your baby's coverage will mirror your own in most cases. You'll both have the same co-pay for emergency room and physician visits, and any deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses will be the same. Once you understand the terms of your coverage, keep them in mind. For example, if your insurance has a limit on the number of visits to a pediatrician, mention that to your doctor and work together to find an approach that ensures the health of your child without putting too much of a strain on your finances.
If your employer allows it, you might be able to maximize your baby's new coverage by using a health care flexible spending account or FSA. A FSA lets you pay for certan health care expenses through pretax payroll deductions. While you can't use your FSA to purchase diapers, you can use it to pay for co-pays, deductibles or anything your insurance company does not cover. You can also use your FSA to pay for diaper rash creams, medicine and formula prescribed by your doctor to treat colic.
If you're worried about not being able to afford health insurance for your child, she might be eligible for Medicaid insurance. Depending on your income and the eligibility thresholds in your state, you might be able to provide your baby with insurance for little or no cost. To apply for coverage, you need her birth certificate and proof of your identity and income.