New law mandates Vt. insurers cover midwife services
Montpelier, Vermont - May 18, 2011
Other than a mild case of the hiccups, 10-pound, 22-inch long Michael Bliss is ready to go home.
He likes to sleep all day and eat all night," laughed mom Jennifer Bliss.
Jennifer Bliss gave birth Monday at the Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, which specializes in low-intervention midwifery.
"What you're going to get for care is really important and with midwives, it's your choice," Bliss said.
Bliss says, a natural, low-maintenance birth plan is important. She even says she would have considered home birth under different circumstances.
"If we lived in a different place and had more space I would have thought about it some more," Bliss said.
Despite the issue of space, home births were not covered by Vermont insurance companies-- that is until now.
"One of the things that's extremely important to our families is to be able to have a choice about the way we bring Vermonters into this world," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Shumlin signed a bill into law Wednesday requiring Vermont insurance companies to pay for the prenatal care, deliveries and aftercare that licensed midwives provide.
"It's always disappointing to women when they want to do a home birth and they're good candidates for a home birth, but financially they can't afford to do that," said Tanya Waters, a midwife.
According to the Midwives Alliance Network, at home births are usually less than half of the cost of an uncomplicated birth in the hospital, which can average around $6,700. But there's a risk of having a baby at home without a doctor present.
"A hospital does provide all the medical technology to intervene in the case that there is a problem," Waters said.
Waters says women need to be aware of specific selection criteria when considering a home birth.
"It's their choice, our primary concern is that women make informed choices and we support the choices that they make," she said.
According to the Vt. Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care, or BISHCA, Vermont delivers more at home births per capita than any other U.S. state.
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