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Health Insurance Help for Teen Mothers and their Babies Posted: April 16th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Maryalene LaPonsie

The good news coming out the Centers for Disease Control is that teen pregnancy rates are dropping from their all-time high in 2007. The decrease is the first sign that the alarming trend of underage moms may be reversing. However, despite the positive report, it is expected that approximately 40 of every 1,000 teenage girls will become a teen mom in the upcoming year.

No matter their background, teen parents face an uphill struggle to provide for their child financially and emotionally. Beyond daily diapers, clothes and food is the enormous cost of health insurance. Vital in those first years of growth, health insurance can be hard to come by when you are a teen with limited resources.

While many teen mothers can receive coverage for maternity care through their parents' insurance policy, coverage generally ends upon delivery. To find cheap health insurance for their child, teen mothers can try one of the following options.


Cheap Medical Insurance through an Individual Plan

Most teens are not eligible for group health plans because they aren't in jobs that offer it. However, they may be able to find inexpensive coverage for their baby through an individual insurance plan.

A teen mother is eligible to continue coverage as a dependent on a parent's health insurance policy (up to age 26, in fact), but a separate health insurance policy may be needed to cover the child. Free health insurance quotes can be found both online and through a local insurance agent. Make sure to carefully review out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, co-pays, and coverage caps.

Children's Health Insurance Programs for Cheap Health Insurance

Created in 1997, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is designed to help working families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford medical insurance. Although CHIP is not free health insurance, it is heavily subsidized by the government and may have premiums as low as $5 a month.

While the federal government mandates certain program guidelines, each state may customize eligibility requirements, covered services, and payment levels. Still, all states must include coverage of basic services such as check-ups, immunizations, and dental care within their CHIP program.

For more details about the CHIP program in your state and to see if your baby is eligible, call the CHIP hotline ay 1-877-KIDS NOW (543-7669).

Free Health Insurance through Medicaid

Medicaid is a federally mandated program that provides free health insurance to low-income individuals. Although every state must offer Medicaid, like the CHIP program, states are free to customize the type of services and the level of coverage you receive

While Medicaid offers a much needed safety net and free health insurance coverage, be aware that many physicians do not accept Medicaid or limit the number of Medicaid patients they see. If you prefer to see a specific health care provider, check to see if they accept Medicaid. If not, you may want to explore your other options before applying.

To determine whether your baby is eligible for Medicaid, contact your local Department of Social or Human Services.

Insure Your Baby on a Grandparent's Health Policy

In most states, grandchildren are not considered "covered persons" on a group health insurance policy. In other words, insurance companies do not have to allow a grandparent to add their grandchildren to their medical plan. However, in seven states grandchildren are mandated by law to be considered "covered persons" on group health plans. These states include:

  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

Although insurance policies may increase the premium amount to add a newborn, this cost is often significantly less than the price of a separate individual plan. In addition, a grandparent is more likely to have access to health insurance through a group policy, among the cheapest insurance plans available, than a teen parent.

Group Plans for Teens

While grandparents are more likely to have access to group health plans, teens may be able to find group coverage themselves. Group coverage is often the cheapest medical insurance because it spreads an insurance company's risk across a large group of people, instead of an individual or family. Teens may be able to find their own group coverage if they are employed. In addition, some schools and colleges offer health plans to students.

Maryalene LaPonsie