Having a baby is a hectic time. But even though members with newborns are sure to be preoccupied and sleep-deprived — and may be out on leave — there are steps they should take to get their newborn baby health insurance.
The union board is well-positioned to guide its members as they welcome a new addition to their family. Planning ahead not only supports growing member families but also strengthens the member-union relationship.
Understand Why Planning Ahead Matters
Members who are first-time parents may not realize that insurance companies don't automatically add a new baby to a parent's policy. The policyholder has to actively add their baby after birth. Then, plan coverage is applied retroactively for the baby's care in the hospital and for their multiple pediatrician appointments once they're home.
If a member forgets to add their baby to their policy within the allotted number of days, it can lead to unnecessary stress. Insurance may not cover the baby's hospital stay or initial doctors' appointments. If they miss the window, parents may even have to wait until the next open enrollment period to get their newborn baby health insurance, which would mean both having to figure out how to protect their baby's health without health care coverage and worrying about how to pay for birth-related costs out of pocket.
Offer a Checklist
Everyone will feel — and fare — better if members who are expectant parents know exactly what they need to do. A checklist or guide to what needs to be done before and after a member's baby is born can be a great resource for the union to provide. While this doesn't include every possible situation and need, here are five steps members can take to be prepared.
- Scrutinize policies. If your member has a spouse with their own insurance or who has the option to enroll in their employer's health plan, the couple will want to closely examine both health insurance policies and see which one is the best for their baby. Maybe your member already knows their baby has a health condition that will require regular visits to specialists. If that's the case, they'll want to scrutinize their and their spouse's policies to see which plan has the right doctors in network.
- Understand extra costs. Members should know that premiums will go up when their newborn is added to their insurance policy. Families with multiple children often get a break, however, depending on the insurance policy.
- Get the necessary documents. To add their baby to their insurance, members will need to have their newborn's birth certificate and Social Security number on hand. Hospital staff will provide the right paperwork to get those documents.
- Complete the enrollment. Typically, new parents have a 30-day window to enroll their newborn baby in their health insurance, but the sooner the better. After their baby is born, members will need to call their plan administrator to add a dependent. Make sure members have the correct direct phone number so they don't lose time and risk missing their 30-day window. Your members will be able to add their baby to their plan, which will cover all prior charges (from the baby's hospital stay to early checkups) retroactively, dating back to the baby's date of birth or adoption.
- Consider a DCFSA. Right after their baby is born is also a good time for members to consider contributing to a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA), if one is offered. Let members know it's a great way to save by setting aside pretax money for child care.
As you support your members, you may also want to look into what special programs your insurance provider might offer. Some companies have free programs for expectant parents that can be helpful and provide important reminders. Many also give guidance for after a baby's arrival, including information on returning to work. Members with a newborn will appreciate the support a caring and informed union board extends.
With 15 years' experience writing for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, The Christian Science Monitor and Newsday—Deborah Blumberg specializes in business and finance and health and wellness. She writes about topics including corporate communications, financial markets, real estate, renewable energy, cancer, health education, nutrition, supplements, the microbiome and functional medicine. She was a Knight Center fellow and a Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism fellow. Her time working in marketing and communications at JPMorgan Chase taught her how to best tell a company's story. She's adept at turning complex ideas into compelling copy. She's also an officer of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and a Women in the Visual and Literary Arts board member, and she is fluent in Spanish.