Corvallis resident Autumn Benton found out she was pregnant with her third child last December. She has since discovered that home birth was not covered by her health insurance.
Benton, a part-time mental health therapist and part-time mother, recently opted for a health insurance plan through Samaritan Health Services. The Samaritans Health Insurance Policy does not currently include home births in its coverage for antenatal, postnatal and maternity care.
Benton held a protest against this policy outside the Samaritan Health Plans building at 2300 NW Walnut Blvd. at Corvallis. She demonstrated every day this week from July 12 to 17 for one hour each morning.
The protest consisted of Benton, his family and friends holding signs supporting Benton’s cause. The signs read “Honk if you want to choose your health care provider”, “Honk for various options”, “Stop excluding home birth from coverage” and “Sam Choice will not pay for my childbirth. . “
A protester was holding a cowbell to attract the attention of passing people, and Benton’s children ran a lemonade stand on the sidewalk. Benton stressed that his protest was a family event.
Benton said she first tried negotiating with Samaritan in January and submitted a pre-authorization form. She claims Samaritan never followed up with her.
After trying to find out what happened with the form, a representative told him that the insurance company canceled the form. A “canceled” form prevented her from filing any kind of recourse for a home birth.
Benton’s next step after his form was canceled was to submit a grievance. After not receiving a response to her grievance within the allotted timeframe, she was told that she could not have insurance coverage for her home birth and was promised that her concerns would be referred to the policy review committee when they review their insurance. Strategies.
“It kind of made me feel like they were just hoping I was going to leave if they ignored me,” Benton said. She said she is currently fundraising for her home birth.
Her overall goal in organizing this event is to get Samaritan Health Insurance to change its policy on excluding home births from maternity care coverage.
Ian Rollins, Marketing and Communications Strategist for Samaritan Health Services, made a statement on behalf of Samaritan to The barometer in response to Benton’s protest.
“As a self-funded health plan serving over 12,000 members including Samaritan employees and their covered dependents, Samaritan Choice strives to balance member needs and preferences with high quality care and control. costs. This balance is regularly assessed, ”according to the Samaritan press release.
Benton said she wanted her insurance to cover between 60% and 90% of the cost of a home birth, and that was reflected in other insurance plans as well.
Benton stressed that she wants women to have as much choice as possible about how they have their children.
“Prenatal and postnatal care provided by a licensed provider, as well as any emergency care in a licensed facility that may arise during a home birth, is all covered for members of Samaritan Choice,” said Samaritan Health Services. in the press release.
She feels that the policy is discriminatory based on the type of provider and is restrictive and discriminatory against women and also feels that the policy itself is outdated given that by the time she was filling out her grievances, COVID-19 was overwhelming. hospitals.
“We don’t realize how medical the delivery has been and that there is another way to do it,” Benton said.
Attendance at the protest so far has been comprised of his Facebook friends and family.
A protester named Kama-Love Carmichael, who is a nanny and housekeeper, has expressed her reason for supporting Benton’s cause.
“It’s not my blanket. I am sterile so I have no choice. I always want to fight for other women to have that choice in their coverage, ”Carmichael said.
“Although home births are not currently offered as a covered benefit by Samaritan Choice, members have the right to choose a home birth and assume responsibility for these costs as they would other providers. excluded or unaccredited health care, “according to Samaritan’s statement. .