Financial Help for Premature Babies

Source

Premature Baby Costs

The UK charity, Bliss, estimates that the financial cost of a baby being born premature is £2800, or around US$4500. These are extra expenses, over and above the ordinary costs of a new baby, and include money for travel, car parking, food, premature diapers/nappies and breast pumps. Sometimes there is also a need for accommodation, or for childcare for older siblings. In countries such as the USA, which do not have free health care, the cost may be considerably higher. Hospital care for babies born at below 32 weeks and who weight less than 750 grams is around $90,000! However, help is at hand.

Much of the support that is available is for families with seriously ill children in hospital, but there are some charities who specifically assist families with premature babies.


What this article covers

  • What to do if you live in the USA to ensure you are covered for basic hospital costs.
  • Help available in the States and elsewhere around the world for some of the extra costs incurred when a premature baby is in hospital.

Who is at risk?

You are at higher risk of having a premature baby if you

  • have had a previous premature birth
  • are carrying twins or more
  • are a teenager
  • are over 40
  • drink alcohol
  • smoke cigarettes
  • have any the following conditions or illnesses:
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure, whether chronic or pregnancy induced
  • poor nutrition or a very low body mass index
  • cervix or uterus problems, such as incomplete cervix or placenta abruption
  • an infection, particularly urinary tract or uterine

(With proper medical care, the risk can in some cases be reduced for some of these conditions.)

For Mothers in the USA

Before and during pregnancy

Insurance

If you live in the USA and are planning to become pregnant then make sure you have a good healthcare plan. Even if you don’t fall into a high-risk category, an illness such flu can cause a baby to be born early. However if you are at risk, speak to your insurance company early because some of your baby’s care may not be covered. (To see if you are in a high-risk category see the blue box.)

If you are uninsured

If you are already pregnant and have no insurance you should apply for Medicaid. This is a program for people on low incomes, and eligibility varies from state to state. However, in all states, pregnant women with an income of 133% of the Federal Poverty level or below are classed as “categorically needy,” and many pregnant women with an income above this will be eligible under the “medically needy” classification. (The poverty level varies from state to state.)

If your baby has already been born

If you have insurance

Even if you are already insured, speak to a hospital social worker, because you may be able to apply for Medicaid to cover extra expenses, or you may get a lowered rate of hospital care.

If you have no insurance

If you are uninsured apply for Medicaid. Arrange a meeting with your hospital’s finance department as many will offer a lower rate or will arrange a payment plan. It is likely to cost less to come to an arrangement with your hospital than to borrow from a loan company or credit card. Hospitals will offer a lower interest rate, and some may not charge interest at all. If you still need financial help there are charities you can turn to, some are local, one that covers the USA and on that is worldwide.

Local and Worldwide Support Available From Charities and Other Sources

The bedding in this photo was made by volunteers and this is similar to those made by the Warm Hearts - Warm Babies charity.
The bedding in this photo was made by volunteers and this is similar to those made by the Warm Hearts - Warm Babies charity. | Source

How to Find Local Financial Assistance

When our second daughter was born 3 months early we lived in the South of England. There the charity The Snowdrop Trust provides emotional, practical and financial support for families of very ill children. This support is not specifically for premature babies, but includes them. We received a grant which contributed towards the cost of travelling to and from the hospital where our baby was in Intensive Care.

It is quite likely that your local area has a similar charity that provides financial support for families with children in hospital. When you have a premature baby it is sometimes easy to forget that includes you.

Ask your baby’s nurses or the Neonatal Unit administrators if they know of any local charities providing support. Some Neonatal units even have notice boards with information for the local area.

One example of a local charity that provides support specifically for premature babies is Warm Hearts-Warm Babies. Volunteers for this charity make clothing and bedding for premature babies in the US State of Colorado. Some similar charities can be found in this article: Making Items to Donate to Charity. (Go to the section: Preemies in Need.)

USA Wide Financial Assistance

In the USA, the charity Miracle Babies provides financial assistance to parents with premature babies. This charity was founded by Dr. Sean Daneshmand after his own daughter was born 6 weeks early in 2002. Based in San Diego, it provides support anywhere in the United States.

To obtain assistance you need to fill out an application form, giving details of income and living expenses. You will also need your social worker to verify that your child is in Neonatal Intensive Care. How much you will receive will depend partly on the ratio of income to expenses, partly on how premature and ill your baby is and partly on how many other parents apply around the same time. The charity processes applications twice a month, on the 5th and 20th.

A link to Miracle Babies’ website is provided in the blue information box: Resources

Resources

Worldwide:

Ronald McDonald House Charities

In the USA:

Miracle Babies’ application form

Warm Hearts - Warm Babies (Colorado)


In the United Kingdom:

The Snowdrop Trust (Sussex)

Worldwide Financial Support

The Ronald McDonald House Charities provides free accommodation for families who have seriously ill children in hospital. This charity has chapters (subdivisions) in 56 countries worldwide. Not all chapters provide accommodation, but many do, with either houses or family rooms being available, depending on location.

Although the fast food chain McDonald’s is the charity’s largest supporter the charity is a non-profit corporation and receive income from a range of corporations and individuals. For more information and to find out if there is a house or room near you, see the link in the Resources box.

Source

Support with Parking charges

One of most common forms of financial assistance available to parents of premature babies is a reduction in the cost of parking charges. Although this may be small in comparison to some other costs, it can mount up. Many hospitals have a system that allows parents of babies in Neonatal units to pay reduced charges. For example, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary provides a “top-up” card that enables parents to park for a daily rate of less than one third of the normal rate. The hospital where our baby was born had a similar system, but we didn’t think to ask about this, and only found out near the end of her stay. Our experience is not unusual, so ask at your Neonatal Unit reception desk to find out if your hospital runs a reduced-fee scheme.

Financial Help From Employers

In most countries parents are able to obtain paid parental leave following the birth a baby. Most often this is mainly maternity leave with a shorter time granted to fathers. It may be possible for parents to obtain compassionate leave.

The United States is one of only 4 countries world-wide which has no mandatory paid leave for new parents, although this varies from state to state with California, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and Rhode Island all providing some paid leave for mothers. Laws regarding compassionate leave also vary between States, and some employers are more generous than their State law requires, so do ask!

Get emotional support if you need it.

Finally if you are struggling with the emotional upheaval of having premature baby, what you are feeling is normal. Make sure you get the emotional support you need.

Listed below are more of my articles on premature babies, including on how Kangaroo care and massage can help both mother and baby to cope with the experience.

The Benefits of Massage For You And Your Premature Baby

The Benefits of Kangaroo Care for Your Premature Baby

Why It’s Not Your Fault That Your Baby Is Born Premature

What to Expect as Your Premature Baby Grows up

More by this Author


Comments 18 comments

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

That is a gorgeous baby!!!! Aww:)

This is terrific info to know. I only carried my girls 8 months...all of them. The smallest one was 6 pounds, 3 ounces so they don't consider that premie size:) haha I had gestational diabetes...so you are so right about that causing complications. Excellent hub and info!


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi RealHousewife,

Thanks, I thought she was gorgeous by then too (about 7 weeks old) but she was a strange wee thing when she was born and was covered in fine hair!

Your babies were definitely prem at 4 weeks early, but yes they were big.

I only discovered gestational diabetes was a risk factor when I was researching this hub, I had some sort of virus when my daughter was born.

Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely comment.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

What an incredibly well-researched hub! This will be so helpful to parents who face the devastating expenses that occur when a baby comes too early.

I like the wealth of information you've provided here. Voted up, useful and interesting.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Marcy,

Thank you! I certainly hope it will be helpful. It’s a lot easier financially for us in the UK and other countries with universal health care, but even then costs mount up. We didn’t even have to look for assistance, the Snowdrop trust came to us. I think our health visitor arranged it.

Thanks very much for your comment.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

This is great information!! I will pass this on to mommas to be that I know. :) Thank you so much for sharing this.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi cclitgirl,

I hope your friends don’t need the information, but it’s definitely better to be prepared, especially in the States. I’ve very grateful for our Health service after researching this hub. Thanks very much for your comment.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Excellent and very helpful hub! :) Thanks for sharing such helpful information! :)


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi KathyH,

Thanks very much for your kind comment.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

This hub is an absolute must read for parents who have a premature baby. It's well researched, nicely organized and contains links to valuable resources and further information.

I am voting it up across the board except for funny and sharing it. As you mentioned in the hub, parents of preemies are often unaware there may be help available and even if they are aware, they may be clueless about how to access assistance and charity programs.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Happyboomernurse,

Thanks so much for your detailed feedback. It was very interesting for me to research this and see how different our experience could have been if we’d lived in the USA. I think anxiety about money must add a huge amount of pressure to that already felt by parents of preemie babies so I hope this can help someone somewhere!


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

very interesting hub, melovy.

my kid was born in 81/2 months and he was also kept in the intensive care 'cause he ingested a little of amniotic fluid. boy, it is torturous to see them in the intensive care while the mom getting discharged. Insurance companies do not allow the parents to stay beyond the time limit...bummer.

hope your daughter is all strong and beautiful to face this world...cheers!


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Ruchira,

Yes, it’s is hard seeing your baby in intensive care, and going home without them. We don’t have the insurance issue in the UK, and some hospitals do have accommodation for mothers, but many don’t, including the one where my daughter was born. She is fine now, and I hope your son is too.

Thanks for your comment.


Margaret Scarboro profile image

Margaret Scarboro 4 years ago

Beautiful baby and beautiful article!


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Margaret, and thank you for your kind comment.


jennifergay 4 years ago

Hi everyone,

How do we find organizations that provide or extend financial support for pre-term babies? My child is currently at the hospital since I gave birth to her at 31 weeks gestation. She is in the incubator and we really, really need financial support and assistance for her medical needs and hospital bills. The cost of incubating the baby is quite expenses and we could not afford it on our own.

Please, please, please help us. We need every ounce of help for our baby.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hello Jennifergay,

I don't know where you live, but if it is in the USA, then my first suggestion would be to apply to Miracle Babies for a grant. The website is listed in the blue Resources box.

Also, in the US whether you have insurance or not, set up a meeting with the hospital social worker because you could get Medicaid to cover the expense, or hospitals will often reduce the bill. (See the section near the top: "If your baby has already been born," for more information.)

If you don't live in the USA, then talk to the nurses looking after your baby or if your hospital has a social worker, speak to them. Very often there are reductions in charges that parents don't find out about till later. The nurses looking after your baby are the best people to speak to first, because they will know who at the hospital can help you.

In the USA the charity March of Dimes supports premature babies. They don't provide financial support, but they can provide emotional support, which every mother of a premature baby needs, and they might have more suggestions for where you could get financial support.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby and I wish you well.


jennifergay@hubpages.com 4 years ago

Hi Melovy,

I leaved in the Philippines. Thank you on your tips and suggestions above. It will surely help my family and I and the baby.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

jennifergay, I am very glad to have been able to be of some help to you.

I hope you also get plenty of support for your feelings because having a premature baby can be quite a shock. If the nurses at your baby's hospital haven't yet told you about Kangaroo care, then ask them about it because it is a beautiful thing for you and your baby.

You will be in my thoughts.

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