Imagine being 8 months pregnant. You are excited and nervous to meet your baby. You think you have all the details of your birth planned. Then your insurance company tells you they won’t cover your home birth with your midwife. This “rug swept out from under you” feeling is exactly what two local women experienced with Independent Health.
Courtney Campbell and Mary Grace O’Connor’s stories are remarkably similar and incredibly frustrating. Both chose to use Fika Midwifery. They received initial approval of this choice from their insurance company, Independent Health, in the early months of their pregnancy. Both women were paid thousands of dollars in submitted claims during their early pregnancies. When they entered the last months of their pregnancies they were informed that a birth Fika Midwifery would not be covered by insurance.
This denial of coverage the insurance company claims is due to a law stating that a midwife must have “written collaboration agreement with a doctor”. According to the women’s attorney, Fred Cohen, the law was changed in 2009. Today, midwives must have collaborative relationships with other medical professionals but no written agreement is required. Maura Winkler, owner of Fika Midwifery, claims she provided proof of these relationships to independent health and has had no issues with other insurance companies denying coverage to her patients.
Courtney and Mary both still owe Fika Midwifery thousands of dollars which they believed would be covered by independent health. According to News 4 Investigates, there are currently 8 similar complaints against Independent Health. 4 are current lawsuits and 2 more will likely be filed soon.
WIVB reporter Daniel Tevlock recently covered this story. We encourage you to check out the article here to hear more from Fred Cohen, Courtney Campbell, Mary Grace O’Connor, Maura Winkler and Independent Health on this lawsuit.