Reimbursement for doula through health insurance is something we hear about every once in a while. I thought this was a great example of, you never know until you try! It seems to be the consensus that most companies will automatically decline the first request...but don't stop there! Sarah shows that her last-ditch effort actually proved fruitful!
I was about 32 weeks pregnant with Hope when I thought about hiring a doula. Knowing friends who had used them, I thought it might be something I would benefit from, especially because I wanted to have a med-free birth. I emailed Charlie Rae Young, a doula that Jenny had used during her pregnancy with Noah. We met a few times before my due date and she was always available via phone or text if I had any questions. When I called my insurance company to inquire about coverage, their answer was short and to the point - "Sorry, but your insurance doesn't cover doulas. Even though I was going to pay $800 out of pocket, it was an experience I definitely didn't want to pass up. (for anyone wondering, that money covered two pre-natal home visits, the entire birth, a post partum home visit, lactation support and constant availability via text/email/phone).
I briefly wrote about how amazing it was to have a Charlie present at the birth of Hope. If anyone is on the fence or questioning having a doula for their birth experience, I say do it! You can never have too much support while you're in labor.
In January, I decided to write a letter to my insurance company, requesting reimbursement for my doula, or "labor support services." Even though I had been turned down over the phone, Charlie said it wouldn't hurt to send a letter. I mean, really, the worst they could say was no - and I'd already heard that.
Below is the letter I sent (certain areas blocked out for privacy):
(Insurance ID & Account Number)
Date of Delivery: November 15, 2012
January 8, 2013
With the labor support of Charlie Rae Young, DOULA, CLC, SM, I was able to forgo medical pain management and avoid other interventions that are costly to (Insurance Carrier), including a cesarean birth, during my recent vaginal birth at Florida Hospital.
The following were charged to Cigna during the birth of my first daughter on 11/15/10:
Vacuum Extract/Forceps: $197.00
Vacuum Mityvac: $126.83
Hi Risk Care per hour: $552.00 (8 hours)
Urinary Cath Ins-Foley: $202.00 (2)
OB Epidural Service: $506.00
Urinary Cath Ins-ST CA: $101.00
Daily Bed Service: $1508.00 (quicker recovery, so stayed one less night this time)
This is a savings total to (Insurance Company) of at least $3192.83, plus the cost of pain medication, as I used much less during the recovery period this time around. The cost of my labor support was $800.00, in which I am requesting reimbursement.
Please feel free to call with any questions.
I mailed it off, crossed my fingers, and waited to hear back. Four weeks later, I opened up my mailbox to see this:
I went screaming into the house, I was so excited. Progress! And my total out of pocket expenses? $230. Not bad.
Feel free to use the above letter to start drafting a letter to YOUR insurance company. If more companies were willing to cover labor support, I'd like to think we'd be on our way to less inductions, c-sections and an all around happier birthing experience for all women. Good luck!
(*Update - I also included an itemized invoice from Charlie along with my letter - something most doulas should provide.)
Sarah is a full-time graphic designer in Orlando, Florida. She is a mom to two daughters, Emmalyn and Hope - and has a baby boy due in July. When she is not having babies and working her day job, she can be found photographing newborns, births and families and selling headbands in her Etsy shop. You can follow her blog as well. This was originally shared on her blog.
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♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)