Sam Health Insurance Policy Sparks Protest Over Homebirth Exclusion

Autumn Benton, a part time mental health therapist and mom, discovered that she was pregnant with her third child last December. She then discovered that a home birth would not be covered by her insurance. 

Benton had just changed to an insurance policy through Samaritan Health Services, which does not include homebirths in any of its prenatal, postnatal, and maternity care coverage.  

Her solution? Benton protested outside the Samaritan Health Plans building on 2300 NW Walnut Blvd. in Corvallis, from July 12 to July 17 for an hour each morning. Benton’s friends and family joined her for the protest, and Benton’s children even ran a lemonade stand. 

The path that led to the protest began in January when Benton submitted a pre-authorization form for a homebirth and alleges that Samaritan never followed up. She then spoke to a representative who told her the form had been “voided,” which prevented her from submitting an appeal. 

Then, Benton submitted a grievance — which was not responded to in the expected time frame — and was told she could not receive insurance coverage for a homebirth, but her concerns would be passed to the Policy Revision Committee upon their next review of insurance policies. 

“It sort of left me feeling like they just were hoping I was going to go away if they ignored me,” Benton said to the Daily Barometer. 

The protest was created to promote the coverage of homebirths on the insurance policy. 

Ian Rollins, the marketing and communications strategist at Samaritan Health Services provided a statement to the Barometer on behalf of the organization. “As a self-funded health plan serving more than 12,000 members consisting of Samaritan employees and their covered dependents, Samaritan Choice strives to balance member needs and preferences with high-quality care and cost containment. This balance is regularly assessed. Pre- and postnatal care offered by a credentialed provider — as well as any emergency care at a credentialed facility that may arise during a homebirth — are all covered for Samaritan Choice members.” 

Benton said she wants her insurance to cover 60% to 90% of homebirth costs, saying that other insurance plans do the same. She said that she wanted women to have as many options as possible when it comes to giving birth. 

“We don’t realize how medicalized birth has been and that there is another way for it to be,” Benton said. 

Benton is currently raising funds for her homebirth. 

By: Hannah Ramsey