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Birth Centers, Home Births and OHP

An email recently blew through the uM account and the reader has the following question: 

"I'm currently working as a babysitter and I do not have insurance. I am 7 weeks pregnant and am interested in having a midwife, and either having a home birth or a birth center birth (ideally not a hospital birth unless it is my only option). I am just wondering if anyone knows how to have an "alternative" birth covered 100% by OHP, because I don't have any other source of income to cover the costs. I know that Andaluz and Alma offer discounts for patients on OHP, but without being covered 100% by OHP I can't afford them. Can anyone recommend other resources? Any information would be helpful."

Have you been through a similar experience when planning for birth? Do you know of any resrouces or businesses that can help mamas on OHP, SNAP, WIC, etc... get alternative care/ help?



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This is not exactly the information you were asking about but maybe the baby's father can help with the insurance coverage? Particularly if you two are not together. I think the court could order the father to cover part or all of the pregnancy and birth related expenses. Just a thought.

I've had two wonderful, unmedicated, intervention-free births at Oregon Health & Science University (2009 & 2012) where I was in complete control and totally empowered. I understand one's aversion to hospitals, but I strongly recommend you check out the midwifery providers at OHSU. The bonus to having a natural birth at a OHSU is that the doernbecher nicu team is right there if Baby has any problems and this brought me great peace of mind knowing a family member who had a home birth go tragically wrong. Also, OHSU midwives offer water birth option. I believe OHSU has a good relationship with OHP, but its been years since I kept current with that info. Congratulations and best wishes for the birth you desire.

Honestly, I don't know if this is still true or not (cause 3 years ago and things change), but I did a bit of a search and this popped up


I suspect if you set aside some time to talk to whatever helpline they have, they could clarify what you are and aren't eligible for! Good luck and congrats!

This is the first year that Oregon has been able to collect these statistics: you might want to read this before making your choice. https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/8585

There's a loophole into getting OHP into covering home births. I had one last summer with A Gentle Beginning. Not sure I can do it a second time though , and we're thinking about another baby. I think a lot of package home birth care is still cheaper than minimums for insured hospital births... I could be wrong though. Def would depend on which plan you had.

Try Sacred Passages. http://www.sacredpassagesmidwifery.com/
The midwives are extremely knowledgable and respectful.

I'm on OHP and couldn't figure out how to get them to cover a home or birthing center birth, but I am going through the Legacy Emmanuel midwife clinic and it's been great so far (we'll see how the birth goes in the next month or so!). It's run by a team of midwives (I think 8 altogether?), and I've met 4 of them so far -- they've all been knowledgeable, helpful and patient, and focused on empowering you to make your own choices, and they are all about natural, intervention-free options (while also being open to whatever your preferences are). And even though I will be giving birth in a hospital, the birthing rooms don't feel clinical -- big windows, lots of wood and natural light. At first I was sad that I couldn't give birth through Alma, but at this point I'm happy with Legacy. The only downside is having to deal with some hospital bureaucracy (a couple times there was confusion between the billing department and OHP, and I had to make a lot of calls to sort it out) -- but the benefits have outweighed that annoyance.

I am a Doula in the SE PDX area. Your options are unfortunately limited given the specs you've supplied! But this is ok! Navigating a hospital birth naturally, like others have said, takes understanding their policies and playing their "game". I am a homebirth hospital doula and I've personally had one "homebirth cesarean" meaning I labored at home and planned for a home birth but transferred and later birthed via cs. I have experience with both home and hospital planning. because of the insurance and income restrictions, this pregnancy may mean taking time to focus on preparing yourself for what you can make a hospital birth and using your pregnancy time as best you can, educating yourself on child birth and techniques used within the hospital by natural birth warriors!

please feel free to email and we can talk. I am a low cost /barter trade LD/PP doula

There is a loophole - you have to switch to an open card or something like that. However, I do not think it's wise or ethical to cheat the system.

hi there - I delivered at OHSU and OHP covered me amazingly. The midwives allowed me to labor in the water which was great and I would have gone water birth route except I was considered high risk due to gestational diabetes. Good luck!

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for your responses. You've all been very helpful!

I just got a flyer in my mailbox from the midwife who assisted my birth at Andaluz almost three years ago. She and another midwife -- who happened to do my home visits and was a ton of helpful when I was breastfeeding -- have started a practice called Sacred Passages Midwifery and according to the flyer, they accept the Oregon Health Plan. You can get more info at jesicadolin@yahoo.com.

This page lists Oregon midwives and has background info. http://oregonmidwifeinfo.com

You used to be a able to get an open card from ohp if you applied during the third trimester and then they were required to pay for whomever you had been seeing. unfornunately it has changed recently and they will not pay for out of hospital births. i dealt with this at the begining of the year. i decided to go with the midwives at ohsu and have had a great experience so far. they also have group prenatal visits and although my work schedule didnt allow for it i have met many who really enjoyed it because the midwife was able to spend more time with them and actually have discussions. o also am going with the waterbirth and i think they are the only hospital in portland that does them and not just a jacuzzi tub.

I know this is several years after this question was posted, but if anyone finds this question and is still wondering, there are home birth midwives in Portland who take OHP. I am one of them! I work with Unfurling Birth and we have had great success getting low risk people on OHP covered for their homebirths. See our website at http://www.unfurlingbirth.com/.

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