Baton Rouge --- Adrienne Magendie Zetty is not the stereotypical Medicaid client. She is a full-time college student scheduled to graduate from Louisiana State University in December 2004. Her husband, Tom, is employed full-time as a partner in a small Baton Rouge business. However, when Adrienne became pregnant late in 2002, she learned her private insurance company did not offer prenatal coverage. This left the Zettys with their only option as paying all prenatal care and childbirth expenses out of pocket. Fortunately, they learned about LaMOMS.
The LaMOMS program was implemented in January 2003, designed to make proper prenatal care available to more women. Expanded guidelines for the program gave Medicaid coverage for pregnancy care and childbirth services to women with a household income of up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Under these new guidelines, a woman with a family of four, including the child she is expecting, can have a household income up to $3,000 per month and still qualify.
Adrienne was one of the first women to sign up for the LaMOMS program. She first learned about LaMOMS during her initial maternity visit at a family health clinic in Baton Rouge. She applied for the program and was ecstatic to learn she had been accepted. “It was a very easy enrollment process, and they [the Medicaid workers] were very friendly,” she said.
Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary David W. Hood said the state has made a great deal of progress in past years to improve health for all citizens, especially children. The LaMOMS program, following the successful implementation of the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP), is a continuation of that commitment, Hood said.
“We began this program as a way to ensure more women receive the necessary prenatal care to give birth to healthy, full-term babies,” Hood said. “Not only has our LaMOMS program provided better health care for pregnant women, it ensures their newborns are born healthier, with a reduced likelihood of long-term complications.”
Adrienne agrees that she received better care under the LaMOMS program than she would have gotten paying all expenses without insurance coverage. She and her husband had friends who paid all pregnancy expenses themselves, which eventually totaled nearly $4,000. “And they did not get nearly as good care as the care I got,” Adrienne said.
The Zettys were very grateful for the program, which helped cover three sonograms, issues related to some problems that arose during Adrienne’s pregnancy and a birth with a midwife in Opelousas that the couple chose to use. When Adrienne wanted to change doctors, the Medicaid staff worked with her to let her change care providers and assisted in the transition. On April 29, 2003, the Zettys welcomed a healthy baby girl, their daughter Amelia, into the world.
And since all children born to a LaMOMS mother automatically are enrolled in LaCHIP for at least one year, the Zettys have been able to provide health care coverage for Amelia while they are in the process of gaining coverage from a private insurance company.
Medicaid and LAMOMS covered a total of 53,701 pregnant women in 2003. In comparison to 2002, the LaMOMS program helped nearly 4,000 more Louisiana women like Adrienne obtain pregnancy-related health coverage. These are women who would not have qualified for state-funded insurance without the expansion of Medicaid income eligibility through the creation of the LaMOMS program. Women covered through LaMOMS receive Medicaid coverage for the duration of their pregnancy plus 60 days after giving birth.
Overall, Adrienne said, the Zettys enjoyed their success with the LaMOMS program and have begun recommending it to others. Adrienne said she has three friends, who also are LSU students, who have signed on with the LaMOMS program. Adrienne was featured in an article in the Baton Rouge Advocate when the program made its official kickoff on Jan. 22, 2003. She said after that article, people asked her about the program and she has endorsed it to them. Adrienne said she was very grateful the program was there and happily tells others to look into obtaining coverage for their pregnancy through Medicaid.
“At first we were worried we would be treated differently because we were Medicaid patients,” Adrienne said. “But, everyone was very nice. We were treated with dignity and respect.”
For more information, or to receive a LaMOMS application, call toll-free 1-888-342-6207, or visit LaMOMS on the Web at http://www.dhh.state.la.us/MEDICAID/index.htm.