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In the NICU

  • In the NICU, your baby gets special medical care.
  • Get to know the NICU staff who take care of your baby.
  • Ask questions and get involved in your baby's care.
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Paying for NICU care

While your baby's health is your priority, try to leave time to understand and plan for the financial aspects of your baby's hospitalization. Care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is expensive. It will be a great relief to you if you address these issues early in your newborn's NICU stay.

If you are covered by: 

  • Private medical insurance: Speak with your insurance carrier to find out which NICU costs are covered by your plan. Many plans pay for the entire hospitalization, but some insurance carriers do not pay for specific care, such as that provided by certain specialist physicians. Find out as much as possible about what your insurance expects you to do with remaining costs.
  • Medicaid: Find out from the NICU social worker or hospital financial representative if there are costs that Medicaid does not pay.

If you need additional insurance:

A social worker can help you determine if you should apply for additional insurance for your child through hospital Medicaid or Social Security Insurance programs. Having one of these as a second form of insurance helps prevent you from receiving costly medical bills.


Social Security Administration
Provides information about and applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Your child may be eligible for SSI, based on his or her medical history and your financial resources. (800) 772-1213.

See also: Share your story

Last reviewed August 2014

Excerpted from the March of Dimes booklet, "Parent: You & Your Baby in the NICU", written in collaboration with Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D., and Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D., authors of "Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey".

On your baby's team

Confused about all the people caring for your baby in the NICU? Find out who's who.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to hold my baby in the NICU?

It depends on your baby's health overall. Some newborn intensive care units (NICUs) will encourage you to hold your baby from birth onward. Other NICUs will want you to wait until your baby's health is stable. Ask your NICU staff about its policy on kangaroo care (holding your baby on your bare chest). Kangaroo care has benefits for both you and your baby. The skin-to-skin contact is a precious way to be close to your baby. You may be afraid you'll hurt him by holding him. But you won't. Your baby knows your scent, touch and the rhythms of your speech and breathing, and he’ll enjoy feeling that closeness with you.

My baby was born full term. Why is she in the NICU?

Not all newborn intensive care unit (NICU) babies are born premature. Some babies, even those born full term, may need special care. Your baby may need to spend some time in the NICU if she had a difficult delivery, has breathing problems, has infections or has birth defects.

Most babies leave the NICU just fine. Others may need more special care once they're home.

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