I haven’t had any guest posts written specifically for Mothers of Intention for a while. But when my friend Casey (you may know her better as Moosh in Indy) told me about her current insurance situation, I asked her if she would become a Mother of Intention for me. About two seconds later I had her response.
I really want the anti-health care reform people in the blogosphere and in Congress to read this — the ones who don’t believe there’s any excuse for not having health insurance. The ones who think they’re all ‘conservatives don’t need help from anyone.’ Because I pray you never find yourself in the situation Casey and her family is in now. But I’d be willing to bet money that the anti-health care reform people at least know someone who has a story similar to Casey’s — it’s just not politically expedient to admit it.
I am one of the estimated 40 million American citizens without any form of health insurance.
Of course, that is one organization’s estimation. There are other estimates that don’t count the number of people who are uninsured yet qualify for government programs or people who make over $50,000 who choose not to purchase private health insurance. When you subtract these people the number ends up around eight million.
Why am I uninsured? Several reasons, the first being that my husband’s job does not offer any benefits aside from a salary. The reason we do not have private insurance is because we simply cannot afford it and we’re not sickly enough to justify the expense. The last reason we do not have health coverage is because we do not qualify for any government programs — we utilized them while he was in school; however, we lost coverage as soon as he graduated and began working. Up until now we have used a clinic that offers a flat cash fee for services and we’ve only had to use it once. There is comfort in the fact that we would not be denied care if we needed it, but at the same time there is a sting in the fact that we would be paying so much more money than someone who had insurance. It’s a very shady business this health insurance stuff.
However, in August I found out that I am pregnant after years of infertility and being told it simply wouldn’t happen again. My first thoughts were not ones of joy — they were ones of sheer panic. I was not insured. I nearly died from a condition known as Hyperemesis (severe nausea and vomiting) with my first pregnancy and just last year I watched a friend lose her house because she was uninsured and pregnant, as well. I began calling every insurance company and state resource I could find. The responses I received ranged from “Well, we’d be happy to cover you when you’re not pregnant anymore” to “You realize if you would have had insurance all along this wouldn’t be a problem right?” I began to look into free and low cost clinics with sliding fee scales, one administrator actually laughed at me when in response to, “What does your husband do?” when I answered, “He’s an attorney.”
Yes. My husband is an attorney. A profession that many of America still sees as one that brings in six-figure salaries, full benefit packages and black luxury cars. The truth is that my husband’s gross income after we make our monthly student loan repayments is actually below federal poverty level. But we make it work. We drive twelve-year-old cars held together by duct tape and we don’t have fancy smart phones or even a land line. Our grocery budget is meager and our washer and dryer barely work. But we make sacrifices that allow me to stay home with our daughter, something that is more important to both of us than iPhones, vacations or new cars. I am a freelance photographer and am blessed to be able to contribute a small amount to our family’s income.
But back to the insurance. I have options. I have exhausted every resource I can find and drained anyone I know of information. A nurse in Indianapolis found a midwife who is willing to cover all prenatal care for a flat fee of $3,000 and a hospital that is also willing to take a flat fee of $3,000 for a completely normal no frills delivery. This is fantastic, assuming nothing goes wrong. Another option is to re-enroll in school allowing me to join a student group insurance plan where pregnancy is not considered a pre-existing condition. My last option, short of plunking down a Visa card at the OB office, is the Federal Pre-Existing Insurance Plan. Started in July, this insurance plan is supposed to cover people exactly like me until pre-existing conditions are considered non-existent by insurance companies, which won’t be for several more years. I applied within a half hour of hearing about it and was denied because I had been uninsured for the last year. I actually had to go through the entire process of applying for private insurance, simply to be denied so I could reapply for the Federal Pre-Existing condition program. Silly, but I’ve jumped through bigger (and sometimes stupider) hoops. I’m still waiting to find out if I will qualify or not.
At the end of this, I will hopefully end up with a happy, healthy baby just as I did with my first pregnancy. But I have been very sick and while there are medications that can help (I’m looking at you Zofran) they (and even their generic versions) are outrageously expensive (However, there is no shortage of people willing to commit federal offenses to get me their Zofran. I have politely declined all offers.) There have been days where I could have felt a lot better had I been able to receive an IV, something I did weekly during my first pregnancy but it’s just not an option at the moment. It would be a huge relief to me if something could just work out, which I know it will, I just don’t know when.
This is how it should be — you get pregnant, you go to the doctor, you have the baby, you come home. A pregnant woman’s biggest worries should be, “Can I keep this horse sized prenatal vitamin down?” or “Where’s the closest bathroom?” not “I wonder how many cash payment doctor’s appointments I can skip over so I can still put food on the table?”
If I were single? This wouldn’t be a problem.
If my husband weren’t working? Again, wouldn’t be a problem.
But this isn’t how we’ve chosen to live our lives. We’ve chosen to follow the rules, gain higher education, work and be married. And you know what? It’s a lot harder than we thought it would be but it’s how things should be done, and eventually one day maybe things won’t be so tight. But for now they are. And we have to live with it.
I have gone back and forth on my feelings towards the whole issue. There was one particularly low moment where I actually hoped for miscarriage. I’m not saying I’m particularly proud of it, I’m just telling you the truth. It’s not really worth stomping my feet and gnashing my teeth because I am the minority and I just happen to live in a state where coverage is not guaranteed upon finding yourself pregnant, and, yes, things are changing. There are options out there for people in my situation, but they are few and they are hard to find.
Not to mention that everyone else has an opinion as well.
Home Birth! Move to Canada! DIVORCE FOR NINE MONTHS!
Oddly enough, one of the hardest things to deal with is having so many people who want to help, but not having any way they can help. I mean, I’ll let you come over and scrub my toilets any day, but beyond that? This gestation stuff is going to be my responsibility.