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Health Break: How to navigate your insurance when you are pregnant

Pregnant person looks at computer screen at health insurance information

A podcast for UPMC Health Plan members, Health Break is your quick guide to caring for your mental and physical health, prioritizing wellness, and making the most of your health insurance plan.

Episode 46: Take a Health Break with Dr. Suzanne Labriola

Learn what you can check off your health insurance to-do list as you get ready for your parenting journey. 

Episode transcript:

Camille: Welcome to Health Break by UPMC Health Plan, your quick guide to health, wellness, and how to make the most of your health insurance plan. I’m your host, Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith. This is your…Health Break.

Dr. Suzanne Labriola joins us in this episode of Health Break to talk about how to work through your insurance when you’re having a baby. Dr. Labriola will also discuss related programs and services UPMC Health Plan offers, including Baby Steps, our maternity program. Welcome Dr. Labriola, thank you for being here with us today.

Dr. Labriola: Thank you for having me.

Camille: So, first question for you, in terms of health insurance, what are the first steps a person should take when they find out they’re pregnant?

Dr. Labriola: The first thing we would recommend you do is find an OB provider who’s in network. So our members can do that by going to UPMC Health Plan’s website and using our Find Care tool. They can also contact Member Services. But if they’re having trouble getting to an in-person appointment, we also have the option of UPMC Magee Virtual Care Center where they can schedule an appointment for [a] prenatal information visit. And once they do get to that first visit, we’ll be there to continue to ensure appropriate prenatal care.

Camille: Sounds like a lot of options to get connected. So what happens on that first visit?

Dr. Labriola: During that visit, their OB provider will go over any medications that they’re on because some of these medications may need to change or we may need to change the dose of them. It’s also a time when we want to be sure you’re staying on top of any chronic conditions you may have, something like high blood pressure or asthma. We’ll be sure to recommend you stay on those prenatal vitamins and also check some blood work. The blood work’s going to include your regular red blood cell count and white blood cell count, but we’ll also be sure to check that your childhood immunizations are still protecting you and your baby.

Camille: So are there any other things that members should think about?

Dr. Labriola: What we’d recommend you do is enroll in our Baby Steps maternity program, as you mentioned in the intro. We have our health coaches who are trained in maternity and early care for moms and babies who are available to you throughout your pregnancy and then after you deliver, as well. They’re there to help encourage healthy habits and continuing those after your pregnancy. And also a great resource for any questions you might have on breastfeeding and ongoing nutrition.

Camille: Wow, I didn’t know those existed. I’m excited. Wow, what great support.

Dr. Labriola: Yeah. While you’re expecting, it’s a time to get ready for bringing the baby home. So we’re going to want you to pick a pediatrician, and even take some time to visit with that pediatrician and their office so that you’re comfortable with them ahead of delivery.

And you’ll be developing your birthing plan. Not only are you selecting which hospital you’ll be delivering in, or birthing center, but you’ll also want to make sure that you’ve considered any out-of-pocket costs that come with pregnancy and delivery. And you can use our cost estimator to help you do that.

It’s never too early to plan for childcare, and you’re also going to want to consider what your leave options are.

Camille: Is there anything immediately following the birth that a parent should do with their insurance?

Dr. Labriola: Yes. What you want to do is be sure that you get the birth certificate and share that with your health plan. So whether that’s through your HR representative at your employer or whether you’re sharing that directly with us at UPMC Health Plan and make sure that we add your newborn to your insurance coverage. And then hopefully you’ve selected a pediatrician while you’re pregnant and had a chance to meet with them and they’re in-network as well. So you want to be sure that you’re going to those healthy well child check-ins where they’ll check the baby’s weight and make sure that they’re growing on the right track and also get their childhood immunizations.

Now at that appointment, I don’t want you to be surprised if they’re also checking on you as the mom. So after you do deliver, you’re having a lot of hormone changes and that can lead to some, what we call baby blues. And there’s a lot going on. You’re bringing a new baby back home, you’re getting settled in, and you’re also entertaining guests who come to visit you and meet the newborn. So we’ll keep an eye on how you’re doing if you’re feeling any of those blues. If they continue, then they may be more of what we call postpartum depression. And that’s a serious condition that we definitely want to talk to you about and help support you and treat you through.

So you’ll be asked even at those well-child check-ins, how are you doing as a mom and how is the family doing as a unit? So it’s important too to make sure that you keep your postnatal care appointments and that’s when it’s your time to check in with your OB provider again. So they’ll talk to you about your mental health and they’re also going to talk to you about spacing of any future pregnancies and the timing of when you may want to get pregnant again. So we recommend at least 18 months between pregnancies so that your body has a chance to recover and that you’re ready for everything that you go through for your next pregnancy. So it’s also a time to talk about contraception selection and how to stay healthy in that period.

Camille: Wow, Dr. Labriola, thank you so much. I’ve learned so much from today’s Health Break. Thank you for visiting us today. I hope you will join us again in the future.

Dr. Labriola: Thank you so much for having me, and I do hope this information helps our new moms and parents.

Camille: Connect with Member Services if you have questions about your coverage. Visit the show notes for more information about the Baby Steps maternity program and all the resources that can help you before, during, and after pregnancy.

Find show notes and more information at Join us as we continue exploring health, wellness, and how to make the most of your health insurance plan in the next episode of Health Break.

This podcast is for informational and educational purposes. It is not medical care or advice. Individuals in need of medical care should consult their care provider. Views and opinions expressed by the hosts and guests are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of UPMC Health Plan and its employees.

About Dr. Suzanne Labriola: 

Dr. Labriola is the Senior Medical Director of Employee Health for UPMC Health Plan. In this role, she is integral in designing and implementing medical management initiatives to help improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care delivered to employee group members. Dr. Labriola also serves on physician committees, where she focuses on health management programs to help ensure clinical success. In addition, she establishes best practices for care programs, among holding other responsibilities around condition management, medical management, pharmaceutical and medical strategy. 

Dr. Labriola has nearly 20 years of experience in the medical field. She has held various roles at health care organizations, including leadership roles at Allegheny Health Network, Good Samaritan Hospice, Harris Computer Company and has served as a consultant to hospitals throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Labriola earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University and a Doctor of Osteopathy from the NOVA Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is also a Diplomat of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Osteopathic Association, and Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association. 

About Dr. Camille Clarke-Smith: 

Camille Clarke-Smith, EdD, is a program director in the Quality Improvement, Medicare Stars Department at UPMC Health Plan, where she leads the Medicare Faith and Wellness Program, an 8-week health and wellness challenge. She is also the founder of the nonprofit Transforming the Health of African American Women (THAW) Inc., where the mission is to improve the health and quality of life of African American women and the communities in which they live. Dr. Clarke-Smith earned a doctorate in health and physical activity education from the University of Pittsburgh in addition to a master’s in exercise science and a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Carlow University.