Part 2: Moms Go Without Prenatal Care

AMARILLO, TEXAS - The Lone Star State requires insurance companies to cover more types of health issues than 44 other states, but when it comes to maternity care, the legislature only asks for the bare minimum.

Under Texas law, maternity coverage is optional for companies to offer, but if they do, the only benefit they're required to pay for is the hospital stay following the birth of a child. For a low risk pregnancy that leaves about 7,200 dollars worth of out of pocket expenses.

"I would have thought that the insurance would have taken care of a little bit more than that," expecting father Dustin Dorman said.

The Dormans are on the City of Amarillo health plan, and city commissioner and OBGYN, Brian Edas says he understands their desire for better coverage, but he's not sure state mandated comprehensive coverage is the right way to go.

"That's just a values judgement on behalf of an employer, and people all look at that differently," he said.

The biggest concern about increasing mandated coverage has always been the cost to consumers and employers who provide the plans.

New York mandated comprehensive maternity care coverage back in 1976. That requirement is estimated to cost a single person in the state about $140 extra a year in premiums. But an internal Texas Congressional report shows people are willing to pay higher premiums if it means increased benefits. States with more mandates have about the same rates of insured people as states with fewer mandates.

That leaves concerns from the employer side - like at the City of Amarillo.

"Many employers without the option of providing maternity or not, may elect to drop their health care coverage altogether, it's a very difficult decision," Eades said.

But a leading national researcher out of MIT found that wasn't the case because employees were willing to pick up much of the increased tab through lower wages.

Expecting mom Jessi Dorman is one of those people who would agree to the extra costs.

"We could easily move to a different state (laugh) someone who cares more about their youth," she said.

In case laws don't change or until they do, there's some tips to cut down on the cost of your pregnancy. First talk with your insurance provider and your HR director. Things may be covered, but listed under a different name. And you maybe the first person to ever raise concerns and ask for the plan to change.

Second, know that you can negotiate prices with doctors and the hospital. Dr. Eades for example offers a cheaper rate to people who pay cash up front.

Third, contact the local non-profits. Calling 2-1-1 can help put you in touch with several groups who might be able to help.