Did you know that as of 1/1/23, Michigan Medicaid now covers doulas? It was a process but I’m officially an approved Michigan Medicaid Birth Doula covering Southwest Michigan! Why is that? Because research has shown time and time again that doulas help improve birth, birthers and baby's outcomes by providing emotional, informational and physical support during pregnancy, birth and early postpartum. The United States has one of the worse maternal and infant outcomes among developed countries. This is one of Michigan's way of addressing the maternal health crisis in the United States.

Why does this matter?

Birth doulas are so helpful but the cost is a barrier for some families who need/wants one so having Medicaid covering doula services is one of removing financial barriers and increasing access to doula services.

Most birth doulas will offer a sliding scale, scholarship or discounted price for lower-income families. But the challenge is that they can only take on a limited amount of those families because doulas still have bills to pay as well. This new program will help both doulas and birthing families in Michigan.

This is also exciting for those with private insurance. This could change things in the future. In the past, when a government sponsored insurance is the first to cover something, private insurance follows. Tricare is the other government-sponsored health insurance program that covers doula services (I am a Tricare approved provider too!).

How do I know if I qualify? 

Image of a mihealth card that is green with an white artistic outline of the state of Michigan with the numbers and person name on it.

If you have a “mihealth” green card like the image above, then you may be a Medicaid receipt and may be eligible for doula services. To confirm this, you can call the number on the back of your card to find out what health plan you’re currently on and if you are eligible for doula services. No referral is needed because Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive of Michigan, has said in a press release that doula services are medically necessary and should be offered to families covered by Medicaid insurance.

The only requirement is that you have to be currently pregnant and will be giving birth in a hospital.  

Do you want to see if a doula is right for you?

Find several local  Medicaid-approved doulas and then hire the one that is the right fit for you and your family. Then the doula can do up to 6 prenatal or postpartum visits and attend a birth. They will bill Medicaid or the Medicaid Health Plan (aka insurance). Then they will get paid through them.

You can still interview other doulas that aren't Medicaid approved, it's likely that they will work with you and your budget if you really want a particular doula. It doesn't hurt to ask!

Sweet! How do I find a list of Doulas?

Well doulas have to be on the list on the Michigan website to start the process of being a Medicaid approved provider. This list is supposed to be on this page but it’s under construction (as of 3/10/23). In the meantime, you can try searching on DoulaMatch.net under "Doulas who accept payments from Medicaid or third party insurers" select "MDHHS Doula Registry" and type in your zipcode to find one local to you. 

Keep in mind that even if the doula is on the list, you still need to check to see if they are approved to bill your specific Medicaid Health Plan. 

How is this process going?

It’s kind of a mess. Like all things in transition, there’s bumps in the road as they (as in Michigan, Medicaid, Doulas and Health Plans) try to figure out how to do this. Medicaid now covers doulas but the health plans still needed time to come up with a way for doulas to apply to be a part of their in-network provider system. Medicaid approved doulas can’t bill without being in-network or getting a prior out-of-network authorization. It has taken until early March for providers to finally have a way for doulas to apply.

Why does this matter to you? Well if your due date is March-April and you’re on a Medicaid Health Plan, things might be up in the air on whether you have coverage or not. It doesn’t hurt to ask! Some of the health plans take 30-90 days to be officially “approved” once the applications and contracts are signed. So if you’re expecting and is due after May, you’re more likely to get a doula that is covered by Medicaid. Right now as of 3/8/23, there are 21 Medicaid approved doulas (more applying every week). I am one of them!

Current List of Insurance's Provider Approved

As of 3/10/23, here’s my list of insurance plans that I’m current working on becoming an approved insurance provider for: 

  • Straight Medicaid: Approved
  • Molina Health Plan: Pre-approved (can start billing)
  • United Healthcare Health Plan: Submitted & Pending on Results
  • Aetna Health Plan: Submitted & Pending on Results
  • Meridian Health Plan: Submitted & Pending on Results
  • McLaren Health Plan: Submitted & Pending on Results
  • Priority Health Plan: Submitted & Pending on Results

The other thing that has been an challenge is that as of 3/10/23, there are 9 MDHHS-approved qualified doula training programs/organizations that is accepted to become a doula that is paid by Medicaid. I'm trained and certified by DONA International so it's one of the approved organizations. However, there are a lot of doula trainings/organizations that aren't on the list including those are Black, Brown and Indigenous organizations/trainings. The Michigan Doula Advisory Council is currently working on a process to address that issue to make it more equitable.

Are you on Medicaid and are interested in scheduling an interview with me for my doula services?

At the button below, you just pick a spot on my calendar that will work for you. Then a short questionnaire then I'll email you the video call link details where we will "meet" virtually. We'll talk to each other and get to know each other to see if we're a good fit! Then you'll have some time to decide and instructions on how to book if you decide to move forward with me as your birth doula!

About the Author Kristen Schell

Kristen is a birth doula, photographer and childbirth educator. She wants to help families feel inspired by what birth can be. It can be beautiful, empowering, supported, and evidence based.

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