I hate insurance companies.

So I have health insurance. Pretty decent insurance at that. Gabe has insurance as well, but I don’t know how great his coverage is because he never goes to the doctor. Note: NEVER. Simon was originally covered by both of our insurance plans, since we’re not married we figured, might as well both get him all the coverage- see how that works.

Then I started getting paychecks that covered him AND me: um yea, it was $300 a pay period. Couldn’t quite afford that. So we took him off of mine, and put him just on Gabe’s. So far, it seems alright…? It’s hard to tell really until something bad happens I think.

So we’re still paying off just HAVING Simon in the hospital. My insurance covered most of my costs, minus 20% I think, so we had about $2000 left to pay for the hospital stay alone. Fine, we said, even though we’d just finished paying over $600 for the Global Package of going-to-the-doctor-almost-every-week and all the tests, and whatnot during pregnancy. Sure, we’ll pay the $2000 in increments, get it paid off by the time he’s a year old or something. haha. Then we started getting other bills. There’s the bill for my epidural, another $800 that wasn’t covered. Then the bill from Nationwide Children’s Hospital (have I mentioned how AWESOME they were for those four days we were there?!) for something like $1200 and then other weird bills started coming from different Pediatrix? company? And then another bill from September from Children’s for $200…If I count them all, I think we are roughly paying off about 5 different bills, all for Simon being born, and within the first month of his life. It’s so confusing. I tried calling to figure out what was for what and couldn’t get a straight answer. I think when you deal with big business hospitals, you get multiple bills from various people who contract with the hospital? I don’t know. At any rate, we’re not going to be bankrupted, but I’d like to mention that all of these bills come AFTER our insurance (BOTH insurance companies) have been billed. And we still owe. It’s insane.

One of the bills I finally figured out was for the lactation consultant we went to see in September. At this point, Simon wasn’t nursing at all. I tried and tried and tried and it wouldn’t work. So I pumped and pumped and pumped and we tag teamed getting him the breastmilk we wanted him to have. And we went to a lactation consultant at Children’s and miraculously, for the first time ever since his birth, he nursed for a half hour, and got 3 ounces. 3 OUNCES was a TON at the time! We weighed him before and after he ate, and at that point we really felt like we did the right thing, and could keep on trying with the nursing thing. (Eventually he figured it out at about 8-9 weeks old. Thank goodness.) But when we made the appointment, we were told that it would be covered by insurance (specifically they said my insurance) and that it typically would cost $70 for the remaining part insurance wouldn’t cover. We were willing to pay that, figuring it would be worth the expert advice.  Apparently my insurance denied the claim entirely (Anthem) and Gabe’s insurance denied the claim because it was the “wrong diagnosis”.  So the other day, I was on the phone with my doctor, the hospital, and the billing department, explaining our problems with breastfeeding, in order to find out what we were paying for. It is so strange to me…particularly because we’re not even breastfeeding anymore. I can’t believe I’m still having to explain this.

At that time, we both had full coverage for ourselves, and Simon had DOUBLE coverage, and yet we’re still paying bills and talking with people who are having to re-submit claims for us just to get an answer as to why we’re paying all of these tiny bills that add up. I don’t know if you’re aware, but having a kid costs money AFTER the whole birthing thing. Then there’s food, childcare (OH MY GOD CHILDCARE MAY BANKRUPT US) and well visits, etc. It’s crazy. It’s doable, but it’s crazy. It’s worth it, but it’s expensive.

I might also mention that the same insurance company that denied my claim for a 30 minute visit with a lactation consultant would have covered the cost a $300 abortion. I guess that’s cheaper to them. Just saying.

We have insurance. Good insurance. And we take him to the doctor when we should, when he’s sick and when he’s well. We take him to the doctor and worry more about him than we do ourselves, because that is our job, because he’s our number one priority, we want him to be healthy, and because we can afford to (just barely).

What about families with babies who don’t have insurance? What about people who don’t take their babies to well visits, who feed their kids Coke in baby bottles because that’s what their mom did? How are these people surviving and how are others ignoring the fact that the segregation of health care between the haves and the have-nots puts little defenseless babies at risk, and if nothing else creates a vicious cycle of ignorant human beings on this planet destined to rot their children’s teeth out with HFCS in baby bottles?

Okay off the soap box.

I’m not saying there’s one answer. There are potential problems to any sort of managed care system, and they’ll happen. I just don’t think that it’s right that we pay so much each paycheck, and then up front, and then we’re STILL discussing claims and whatnot on the phone 8 months after the baby’s born? And we’re good parents. We’re semi-healthy and responsible human beings. It just hurts my heart to know that if we’re struggling, and we’re in a better-than-average situation, I can’t fathom what it could be like to be in a worse one. And to peek into what that is like, go roam the halls of Children’s Hospital where the name on the outside of the room just says Baby Girl or Baby Boy. Or you could do it when you’re 3 days postpartum, that’s fun too. Ugh it just aches to see the people there and wonder how they’re doing it- how they’re making it through an HOUR of watching their sick kid,  and then also wonder how they’re going to pay for what they need to care for their brand new baby.

So. I hope at some point, health care does what it’s supposed to do and HELPS  people and insurance companies can suck it. I know they love people like Gabe who just keep paying and paying and paying into their pockets and never using the benefits. Grrrr it makes me angry.

And don’t even get me started on what insurance companies do to doctors who want to care for people out of the GOODNESS OF THEIR HEARTS. That’s a whole other post for another time. Again, insurance companies: SUCK.IT.

Also, I recently got new green glasses for only $200 which is a steal because I also have awesome vision insurance. I’m sure there’ll be pictures at some point.

where I complain about money

So I’m going to write a post about money, prefacing it by saying that I tend to be Chicken Little when it comes to money issues and scream THE SKY IS FALLING while Gabe says, “Money is not real.” So we have vastly different opinions when it comes to these things. It’s not that I can’t afford to pay things off, I do- and it’s not that Gabe doesn’t pay things off or believe in the value of a dollar, but he doesn’t think it’s worth stressing out about.

All of that being said, when we initially learned we were pregnant- we were both completely freaked at the prospect of how much having and raising a baby/child costs. Different websites give you different averages, and then there’s college- which they say will cost upwards of $300K when Thumbkin decides to go– although these days I may discourage education since it doesn’t really seem to benefit people in anyway other than to saddle them with unyielding student loan debt and set them behind uneducated people who’ve already been in the workforce for 4 more years gaining seniority and hogging up all the good vacation days around Christmas.

So when we talked about pregnancy/raising kid costs, we said- “Well we’re both employed, with salaries and insurance, certainly we’re much better off than MANY people right now- we can do this.”

And we can.

However,  when I started budgeting for paying back student loans, I took a look at the credit cards I’d stopped using but had attempted to start just paying off. I have paid off cards before, so I realize it’s no small feat and takes a long time. I just decided I’m DONE paying interest and I’m DONE using fake money I really don’t have. This means, that (gasp) if I don’t have the money in my pocket for something, I have to save up. I can’t put it on a payment plan, etc. It’s not like it’s that strange really- but when a person already lives pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck it can be really scary in case things “come up”.  So we started saving and started paying off the big-bill of maternity/prenatal bill costs. Excuse me if this number sounds very small to you, but to me and my very detailed budget, an extra $600 is a lot of money. We JUST paid it off last pay period and I felt so good about it. I was under the impression that (until we checked out of the hospital) we were done with paying doctor bills for a while…like at least 4 weeks.

Then I got a call from the fancy schmancy hospital I chose (perhaps my first mistake) asking for $300 deposit upfront “as a courtesy”…. And I said, “Exsqueeze me what?!” and immediately- not $hitting you, I feel my blood pressure spike and start seeing bright lights in my field of vision. Do they mean this is a courtesy for ME or for THEM? My insurance covers all but 20% of the costs so they create an “average” ahead of time and ask if I’d like to pay it now.

No. No, I would not like to pay it now. I would like to cry.  I asked the lady, well what is the approximate cost? Give me a ballpark figure? She said I’d have to call their customer (poor people) hotline for that information. Then she said that having a baby is seen as an outpatient procedure. I said, “Everything I’ve read and was told said 2 days for a vaginal delivery…do I not stay 2 days?” The lady on the phone started fumbling…didn’t know what to say and opted for, “Well we wouldn’t send you home if you still needed to be there honey.”

I’m thinking, hand me my baby, cut the cord. Yank out the damned placenta, sew me up, write me a script for percosets and send me home then- $HIT. Send me the bill. And as a courtesy you can….*#%K  right off.

I asked, “Well what do you ask from people who don’t have insurance?”

She said, “You don’t want to know.”

I think they ask for the uninsured’s baby. Like Rumplestiltskin.

Gabe and I have good jobs, I mean- we HAVE jobs which (right now) is in and of itself good. The fact that we are both employed with insurance, maternity leave and whatnot covered- we get it, we’re lucky- we say it all the time.

I just can’t stand this feeling of impending doom all the time like- I’m never going to get ahead. And the thing is, is I AM going to get ahead- faster than most of America in fact because I DON’T have credit cards anymore, we don’t use Gabe’s. We cut out a lot of expenses that aren’t necessary like cable and gym memberships (sigh).  My car is paid off. In 9 years my student loan payments will be forgiven completely- POOF gone. We’re in much much better shape than most of the people yet I still can’t shake this feeling of….WHEN WILL IT END?!

So we’re going to end up paying 20% of whatever-it-costs-to-have-a-baby in a hospital. Which, according to the research I did on the computerwebs, will be somewhere between $4500-$8000 depending.  I just paid $600 in prenatal care- what did that cover?

AND what do people WITHOUT insurance do? I mean- do they just hope they don’t get pregnant? *cross your fingers!*

It just reminds me of the last time I thought I had face cancer because I was getting headaches in my FACE due to a botched root canal. I couldn’t afford the root canal so the doctor forced me to get a credit card because they wouldn’t allow me to just pay them each month (this is one of the credit cards that I consolidated so now I’m paying off a root canal WITH INTEREST like a freaking sleeper-sofa) Anyways, my doctor wanted to make sure I didn’t have some sort of tumor in my face because of all of the swelling and strange pain. I had a CAT scan. Insurance covered a teensy bit. Then a few months later I got a bill- that I didn’t think was real. Then they called me. And I told the lady, “Look I can’t pay all of this right now so I don’ t know what you expect me to do.” She said, “Well maybe next time you think you need a procedure done you’ll think about whether or not you can afford it first.

So that’s what I’m getting at people: I’m already completely freaked out about the whole- splitting in half to shoot a child from between my legs. Now I will also be glancing around the room wondering how much I’m paying to sit in their chairs, to get the drugs, to sleep on the crappy bed and use the pillows. I’ll be tallying all of that up WHILE ripping in half. Because that’s just who I am.

That’s a load of shit. And I have insurance. I’m one of the “lucky” ones.

*EDIT* I just read this post on another person’s blog. About halfway through she talks about how she’s being asked to pay ahead of time for her delivery, too. Messed up. She jokes about considering a home-birth next time. The more I read about that the more I think that might be the way to go in the future….as if I were as strong as the women I’ve seen on youtube or something…or ricki lake.