Those planning to go the family way in the UAE must bear in mind the associated expenses and plan for it. Charges vary widely based on the choice of public or private hospitals as well as if it is a normal delivery or a surgical procedure to deliver a baby. In case of high-risk pregnancies, expenses can easily spiral. Here’s how much a UAE-based Indian couple spent during a high-risk pregnancy.
Dubai: The financial costs associated with a pregnancy can sometimes be riddled with challenges.
There are several expenses to be accounted for, starting with purchasing a pregnancy test kit to delivery packages and the cost of pre- and post-delivery care. In case of normal pregnancy, the expenses are straightforward but vary based on the choice of public versus private hospital. It is also vital to understand what costs will be covered by the medical insurance.
A look at the total cost for a Dubai-based Indian couple
Three years ago, at the age of 40 when UAE-based Indian national Basavdatta Halder went through a high-risk pregnancy and gave birth to her first child in a top rung private hospital in Dubai she incurred a total bill of approximately Dh100,000. Of this, Halder had to pay over Dh75,000 from her own pocket.
The obvious question is how did she manage to shell out such a huge amount?
“My husband and I diligently saved roughly Dh9,000 per month since the beginning of 2017. By the time of delivery in June 2018, we were fortunate to have saved a substantial amount that helped us to cover the medical expenses,” Halder shared.
After thorough research Halder decided to consult an obstetrician-gynaecologist in a leading private hospital in the UAE, given her pre-existing health conditions. The decision required financial preparation since the hospital was outside the network offered by her company-sponsored medical insurance.
While different co-payment terms applied for consultations, scans, tests and medicines, overall, the insurance covered only 40 to 60 per cent of the bills. In the absence of direct billing facility, Halder had to make full payments and applied for reimbursements later, subject to terms and conditions.
“Although I did not purchase one, there is an option to buy additional maternity insurance cover. The premium tends to be high starting at Dh18,000 and can go up to over Dh25,000. That’s because in case of an active pregnancy, the insurance company will account for the cost of delivery and complications, if any,” Halder explained.
Consultations, scans and medicines: many costs to consider
The cost of consultations and scans also tend to widely vary based on the choice of hospital. While the consultation fee at a UAE-based public hospital is approximately Dh265, it can go up to even Dh700 at a private hospital.
Halder had to pay a total of Dh1,000 for consultation and ultrasound scan every time she met the doctor. Since it was a high-risk pregnancy, she had to meet the doctor at least twice a month during the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy), incurring a total cost of minimum Dh2,000. Add to this, the milestone ultrasound scans at twentieth and thirty second weeks that cost Halder a total of Dh2,000.
“In addition, there are certain tests done to check genetic abnormalities that are not covered by the insurance. I had to pay Dh5,000 for the Harmony test, which is a non-invasive prenatal test to screen for abnormalities such as Down syndrome and two other fetal chromosomal abnormalities,” Halder shared.
Further, there are certain prescribed medicines that women must take during the entire pregnancy such as Pregnacare that are also not covered by the insurance. Halder had to spend a total of Dh900 on this medicine. She also had to also take a blood thinner and progesterone medication. “The pharmacy bills would often range from as low as Dh35 to even Dh450, which were covered by my insurance but with co-payment and penalty.”
Penalty or an out-of-network fee applies on the insured person if s/he decides to get medical care from hospitals falling outside of the network of the insurance policy.
Cost of delivery and more
Due to hyperthyroidism Halder had to do thyroid tests at least eight to nine times during the entire pregnancy spending Dh975 each time. Towards the end of her pregnancy, she also suffered from hypertension-related complications necessitating a two-day hospitalisation that cost her Dh7,950 along with laboratory tests. Moreover, Halder voluntarily underwent an optional genetic test that cost Dh7,000.
Finally, she incurred a total bill of Dh37,000 for a Cesarean delivery (C-section) delivery. “Back in 2018, the hospital where I delivered used to charge slightly over Dh25,000 for a C-section delivery with a four-day stay. But due to several complications at the time of delivery I had to stay in the hospital for almost nine days, adding on to the initial package amount,” Halder explained.
“We also opted for cord blood banking (process of collecting potentially life-saving stem cells from the umbilical cord and storing them for future use) that cost Dh14,000,” she added.
Always plan for unforeseen
The last three months leading to the delivery were physically and financially challenging for Halder.
“Suddenly there was a change in our financial situation as ours became a single income household. We were fortunate enough to manage all the medical expenses from our savings. But for many that may not even be an option. So, I strongly suggest expecting parents to put aside at least Dh15,000-20,000 for pregnancy related expenses,” Halder said.
“It is also important to read the fine print of the medical insurance to get the maximum benefits. I had to pay a premium since I opted for a private hospital outside the insurance network. Between March and June 2018 alone, I had pay Dh52,000 in total. Falling under the high-risk category, my case could be looked upon as uncommon. While this may not be the case for most pregnant women, it is important to do some research to opt for the best hospital within the insurance network and therein have access to direct billing.
“For those who are compelled to step outside the network of hospitals covered by the insurance provider, my advice would be to meticulously plan and submit all the required paperwork in time to get the bills reimbursed. Post-delivery, I could not get the huge amount of paperwork sorted within the set deadline to get a portion of the hospital bills reimbursed by my insurance provider and lost out on a substantial amount,” Halder concluded.