Texas has two main programs serving pregnant people without insurance: pregnancy Medicaid and CHIP Perinatal. Both programs have income requirements based on federal guidelines and limited coverage options past delivery. Medicaid programs like these cover half of all births in Texas, according to a Kasier Family Foundation Report from 2020.
People can apply online at YourTexasBenefits.com or in-person at a Texas Health and Human Services benefits office or partner organization, which can include community clinics like Los Barrios Unidos in Dallas or food banks and churches.
Here’s what you need to know to apply, plus and tips from community providers.
Close to half a million pregnant Texans are currently enrolled in pregnancy Medicaid, and just under 27,000 in CHIP Perinatal, according to the latest data from December 2022 from Texas Health and Human Services.
Bethanne Keating, the director of patient access for Parkland Health in Dallas, coordinates the team that helps sign people up for health coverage at the hospital system. She said Parkland can see up to 40 births a day, so her team aims to work quickly to help patients get connected to all types of funding to cover costs.
“[Patients are] relieved to hear that there’s funding options out there,” she said. “We want to see them, especially for prenatal care. We don’t like when they show up just to deliver because those tend to be more complicated deliveries. We want you to get all the prenatal care that you should have. We want you to have a safe, healthy baby.”
Crystal Marcial, a community health outreach associate for Children’s Defense Fund, assists families applying for CHIP and Medicaid in East Texas. She’s been working with the organization for seven years, and as a mom knows how overwhelming the paperwork can be.
“I have a little boy, and even though I’ve been doing this work, I understand how clients can get a little bit scared of doing the application,” Marcial said. “Some parents actually never send their application in because they just don’t know who to ask for help.”
Jetta Ellis got connected to Marcial, who helped her enroll her children in CHIP, and was on-hand as a resource when she found out she was pregnant again last year. Ellis doesn’t have internet at her home, and so Marcial walked her through the process in-person.
“If I had been stuck trying to do it on my phone, I wouldn’t have done it,” she said. “It’s too much of a headache — I can’t tell what I’ve signed up for, what I need, what documents I need to send them. I’m so glad Crystal was able to help me.”