What is the Waiting Period in Maternity Insurance?

Planning for a family is an exciting time, but it’s also essential to be financially prepared. Maternity insurance can help cover the costs of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. However, many plans have a waiting period before maternity benefits kick in. This blog post will explain everything you need to know about waiting periods in maternity insurance plans.

What is a Waiting Period?

A waiting period is a set amount of time you must be enrolled in a health insurance plan before you can qualify for certain benefits, including maternity coverage. This means that even if you have a health insurance plan, you might not be able to use it to cover pregnancy-related expenses until the waiting period ends.

Types of Waiting Periods in Maternity Insurance

There are two main types of waiting periods to be aware of:

  • Initial Waiting Period: This applies to all benefits under the plan, not just maternity care. It’s typically 30 days but can range from zero to 90 days, depending on your specific plan.
  • Maternity Waiting Period: This applies specifically to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. The waiting period for maternity coverage can vary significantly, ranging from zero to one year (or even longer in some rare cases).

If you’re planning a pregnancy soon, it’s crucial to check your specific plan or contact your insurance provider to confirm the exact waiting period.

Why Do Insurers Have a Waiting Period?

The waiting period is primarily designed to prevent adverse selection, where individuals might purchase insurance solely to claim benefits for an impending maternity expense. By implementing a waiting period, insurance companies ensure that the policyholders are genuinely interested in long-term coverage rather than short-term gains.

How Long is the Waiting Period for Pregnancy?

The national average for a maternity waiting period is around 10 months, but it can vary significantly depending on the plan. Some plans offer maternity coverage immediately (zero waiting period), while others might have a waiting period as long as a year.

Maternity insurance

Can Pregnancy Waiting Periods be Waived?

In most cases, unfortunately, no. Waiting periods for maternity coverage in US health insurance are generally mandated by federal law for employer-sponsored health plans. This means waiving them isn’t typically an option.

However, there are a few exceptions and alternative approaches to consider:

  • Individual Health Insurance: Some individual health insurance plans might offer options with shorter waiting periods or even no waiting period at all. However, these plans typically come with higher premiums to reflect the increased risk the insurer assumes by covering you right away.

Employer Exceptions: In rare cases, some employers might offer special circumstances where they can waive the waiting period for certain employees. However, this is uncommon and depends entirely on your specific employer’s policies.

What Happens If I Get Pregnant Before the Maternity Waiting Period Ends?

If you get pregnant before the maternity waiting period ends in your US health insurance plan, here’s what happens:

  • Pregnancy-related expenses won’t be covered: Your health insurance plan won’t cover any costs associated with your pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum care until the waiting period is over. This includes prenatal care, hospital delivery, and newborn care.
  • Other medical coverage remains active: Even though pregnancy-related care won’t be covered, your health insurance plan will still cover other unrelated medical expenses you might incur during this time. So, for example, if you experience a common illness like the flu, your plan would likely cover the costs associated with that illness.

How Can I Find Out About the Waiting Period for My Health Insurance Plan?

There are a couple of easy ways to find out about the waiting period for your health insurance plan:

  1. Review your plan documents: The most reliable source of information about your specific plan’s waiting period is your plan documents. These might be called a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) or Evidence of Coverage (EOC) document. Look for sections related to maternity coverage or benefits exclusions, where the waiting period should be clearly stated.
  2. Contact your insurance provider: If you can’t locate your plan documents or have trouble understanding them, the best option is to directly contact your insurance provider. They can provide you with clear and accurate information about your specific plan’s waiting period for maternity coverage. You can usually reach them by phone, email, or through their online portal.
Insurance policy

Tips for Choosing a Maternity Health Insurance Plan

Planning a family? Here’s how to pick the right maternity health insurance:

1. Timing is Key: Prioritize plans with short or no waiting periods for maternity coverage. This ensures you’re covered ASAP.

2. Know the Waiting Game: Maternity waiting periods are the time you must be enrolled before pregnancy expenses are covered. The average is 10 months, but it can vary.

3. Compare & Conquer: Look beyond waiting periods! Compare plans for:

  • Covered services: Prenatal care, childbirth (vaginal/C-section), postpartum care (you & baby)
  • Network providers: Ensure access to in-network doctors & hospitals you prefer
  • Out-of-pocket costs: Deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums impact your financial responsibility.

4. Explore Your Options:

  • Employer-sponsored plans: See what maternity coverage options they offer.
  • Individual plans: Explore plans on the Healthcare Marketplace or directly from insurers.

5. Get Help:

  • Healthcare Marketplace: The healthcare government site helps compare plans based on income and location. They even offer subsidies!
  • Insurance providers: Contact your current insurance provider or research individual plans.
  • Doctor: Discuss your pregnancy plans with your doctor. They may recommend specific plans in-network.

By following these tips, you can choose a maternity health insurance plan that fits your needs and budget, allowing you to focus on the exciting arrival of your little one!


Planning for a family involves both emotional preparation and financial responsibility. Maternity health insurance can ease the financial burden of pregnancy and childbirth. However, navigating waiting periods can be confusing. By understanding waiting periods and choosing the right plan, you can ensure a smoother financial journey during your pregnancy and welcome your little one with peace of mind.

Consult with Brilliant Insurance’s agents. Our experienced team can answer your questions about maternity coverage, waiting periods, and help you find a plan that fits your specific needs and budget. By understanding waiting periods and choosing the right plan with the help of Brilliant Insurance, you can ensure a smoother financial journey during your pregnancy and welcome your little one with peace of mind.

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