As the Zika epidemic continues to dominate world news headlines, you have probably heard of the growing threat this mosquito-borne virus is posing to pregnant women and their future newborns. The National Environmental Agency in Singapore continues to advocate the importance of taking necessary precautions to prevent these disease-ridden mosquitoes from breeding, including changing and removing water from flower vases regularly. Unfortunately there is still no publicly available vaccine for Zika (as of 2016), so it is highly advisable that all expectant mothers are aware of its potential dangers and whether treatment is covered by maternity insurance.

Risks associated with pregnancy

While Zika virus symptoms are mild for adults and children, its effects on developing foetuses can sometimes lead to severe developmental conditions. It is primarily transmitted by the bite from an infected Aedes mosquito, but infected mothers can also transmit the virus to the foetus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born with a congenital condition called microcephaly, where their head and brain are smaller than expected. This condition can result in foetal brain defects, seizures, hearing deficits, impaired growth, and intellectual disability. There are also increasing reports of infected newborns with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that attacks the peripheral nerves, thus impairing muscle function.

To avoid infecting your unborn child in the first place, it is important to be vigilant in taking all the necessary precautions to prevent transmission. It is also essential to secure maternity insurance so that not only are you protected from the high cost of giving birth, but also so that you and your newborn can receive coverage for Zika treatment in the unfortunate event that you contract the virus.

How does maternity insurance cover Zika?

Zika-infected newborns could potentially develop conditions that require lifelong treatment, and this can easily rack up a mountain of hospital fees. Generally speaking, almost every maternity insurance plan will provide coverage for pregnant mothers infected with Zika. Coverage for Zika-related treatments will tend to include pre-natal testing for the virus, as well as inpatient and outpatient treatment for Zika, as it will generally be considered a pregnancy complication.

Limitations to look out for

Although maternity insurance does cover a wide variety of treatment costs, there are a few caveats to look out for:

  • Some insurers may exclude or decline coverage for newborns with microcephaly, so it’s important to read the fine print on your plan.
  • To receive benefits for the newborn, most plans will require that you have fulfilled your waiting period, which is usually between 10-12 months. If you have not fulfilled your waiting period and you get pregnant, all pre-natal tests and Zika treatment may not be covered.
  • To cover your newborn child, there is usually a limit on the number of days (usually 30 days) you have to register your baby after delivery. If you fail to register your newborn in time, you may lose these coverage benefits.
  • An additional premium will apply for the newborn.
  • Treatment for congenital defects can be very costly, and some plan’s limits may be too low to cover most of its costs.

Maternity insurance benefits will vary between providers and between different plans, so it is helpful to speak with an experienced insurance advisor like Pacific Prime to learn exactly what coverage benefits you are entitled to.

Expat Essentials | Pacific PrimeIf you are looking for the right maternity insurance plans on the market, why not visit Pacific Prime Singapore’s health insurance page to check out a plan today? Their team of experienced insurance advisors offer a wealth of experience that you can rely on.

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