When you’re pregnant, the quality of your health care is of critical importance.
But as one Reddit user recently learned, if you don’t find a doctor early in your pregnancy, you may have trouble finding one later.
A post to a pregnancy subreddit (/r/BabyBumps) detailed one anonymous user’s terrifying experience. She claims that she discovered her pregnancy when she was already 29 weeks in—and as a result of her condition, doctors refused to treat her.
“So I called every OB I could within a 60 mile radius,” wrote the user, who goes by the handle 29weekspregnant-wtf. “A lot of them told me they could not take me on as their patient because I was past 24 weeks and it was a liability they were unable to take.”
By the time she’d discovered her pregnancy, doctors said she was too far along. They couldn’t risk taking her as a patient because the chances of a complication were significantly higher given the lack of medical checkups early in her pregnancy. It was an almost unthinkable catch-22.
She says that she eventually found a doctor who’d accept her—but the physician informed her that her insurance wouldn’t cover the necessary examinations. As a result, she was forced to apply for Medicaid, which brought its own complications.
“I get a call last Monday (a week ago from tomorrow) that Medicaid had switched me over to some other type of insurance called Anthem HealthKeepers…okaaay,” she wrote. “Call up my Medicaid case worker, they wouldn’t be in until Wednesday and no one could give me my insurance information except for my case worker. Well [expletive], alright.
“Wait until Wednesday, FINALLY get my HealthKeepers number. Call the OB practice back, give them that info. They tell me that the hospital I went to won’t release my medical information of when I found out I was pregnant so I would have to go to the hospital and request it myself.”
As she told Reddit, she was worried that she might need induction or a C-section or any other involved procedure. Because she couldn’t find health care, however, she couldn’t know for sure.
While it’s difficult to find dependable statistics, women occasionally discover pregnancies in their second or third trimesters.
That can create substantial coverage issues. Although for the time being health insurance companies cannot deny coverage to pregnant women under the Affordable Care Act, doctors themselves can decide to turn those women away.
Some physicians are skeptical that the Reddit user is telling the whole story—or that she understands her local doctors’ reservations.
“[Doctors] would never turn someone down just for that reason,” Lauren Streicher, MD, told Women’s Health magazine. She says that issues with medical records may prevent women from finding obstetricians but shouldn’t outright prevent treatment.
For women who discover pregnancies when they are far along, it’s still a troubling story. Streicher says that expectant mothers should consider visiting major hospitals to find physician referrals, as most centers have referral departments specifically set up for this purpose.