Thursday, December 17, 2009

A few notes to share

I've been collecting links to pass along, and I figure I should start somewhere! Here are a few items of interest for today.

     • Today, Dec. 17, is the last day to order at Amazon and have free Super Saver Shipping still get to you (or your gift recipient) by Christmas. But do not despair. There are still other shipping options if you're more last-minute than that! Can I just mention that, yes, I am one of those people who is not yet done with holiday shopping?

     • These e-cards are making me laugh. happy holidays

We're heavily considering sending an email Christmas letter after all this year, but for the reason that we can't find the ink to the color printer — or, indeed, the printer itself, after the move. But we feel we might seem like we're ecologically pretentious.

     • In light of the recent US health care debate, of which I am too disheartened even to find a relevant link, I present you His Boys Can Swim's total of the cost of having a baby without health insurance: over $10,000. Now, in some ways, her list is a recommendation for making alternate decisions in regards to maternity and delivery health care. For instance, we used midwives, who charge a flat fee of approximately $2,000. That included hour-long prenatal visits, including some in our home, and then their nurturing presence throughout the whole, long, two-day labor and delivery. Home births tend to be much less expensive than even an uncomplicated hospital birth, even if insurance doesn't cover the cost, and I would cut down on unnecessary exams and ultrasounds (we didn't have one) and forgo the circumcision for any male babies.
      But her point is well made, considering that her pregnancy and birth were "normal" by US standards, and they had to pay all of those costs out of pocket!
      When I wrote my post on deciding whether or not to have another baby, some in the comments brought up the added expense of having another child. It's honestly something I had not considered, because I haven't found that Mikko has added many financial burdens to our life. It might be that we're cheap, or got a lot of things second-hand, or that we have low expectations for how much living space our family needs. It might be that we don't plan to pay for our children's college or for private schools beforehand. Whatever the reason, adding one more didn't seem unreasonable to me in terms of finances.
      And then I got the annual letter from our health insurance company raising our rates. Sam and I are self-employed, so we purchase our own (crappy) health insurance. We chose a high deductible with a Health Savings Account (of which our HSA administrator just declared bankruptcy and made off with our money, but that's another sad story... Let's just say you never want to get a letter in the mail with a lawyer's office as the return address.). We've committed to not using health care services as much as we can avoid it. Note that this is not a sustainable commitment, but it's working for now.
      Except...if we had another baby. Well, then. There is exactly one plan that includes maternity benefits, and it is three times more per month than our current plan. That, my friend, is a significant cost difference! And I'm not sure it's one we can afford, should we decide to go for another baby. We might just have to pay cash for midwifery services and try like heck to avoid the hospital this next time around.
      And heaven help us if we get pregnant accidentally but want to switch to the maternity insurance...because there's a nine-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions. Duh!
      Say what you want about the politics of it, but this right here is the face of health care reform. The not-so-well-off but not-so-poor, working middle class, who have to plan their family size around the whims and unfair monopoly of the health insurance companies.

And I am tremendously late for a birthday party, so that's all for today. Mikko is going to be so excited that we're lighting candles and singing the famous song! It's hard to know whether birthdays or Halloween are the better holiday in his eyes. One has cake-cake (as he calls it), and one has candy that people give you for free. It's a toss-up! Let's see what he makes of Christmas.


amy friend said...

right there with you on the health insurance frustration....except we have none! our child is covered, but DH can not afford it. DH goes to a dr. that is actually overjoyed that he doesn't have health insurance and charges him way less than my fancy pants insurance deductibles used to be. Lucky so far, and I hope we can hold out until there is something reasonable available, or I start making money.

Unknown said...

It's frustrating the way the health care system is so mysterious when it comes to costs. Check out this fun, short video. It makes you wonder why our health care system is set up the way it is.

Anonymous said...

I was totally going to use cost as a way to convince my husband into a home birth or birthing center, but then I found out that our insurance covered 100% of maternity care! I never expected that. It was a good thing, though, since I ended up being high risk. I don't even know what the total was, but now I'm curious.

My parents' insurance company went bankrupt when my sister was born a month premature. They had to foot the bill which was around $50,000.

But how can you predict if your child is going to be expensive or inexpensive? Well, I'm just rambling here...

Lauren Wayne said...

Yes, it's so frustrating the way things are set up. If you don't have insurance, sometimes healthcare professionals will be nice to you, such as our midwives with their flat fee. For instance, our dentist always discounts procedures and throws in, say, a set of X-rays for free. And the hospital Mikko had surgery at told us to apply for financial aid there — we did, and they covered the whole cost that insurance didn't, which was a HUGE relief.

So, yes, what if we can't have a homebirth or there's a pregnancy complication and we need a lot of tests? What if I end up with a c-section, which runs into the tens of thousands of dollars? Or a NICU stay?

A slightly devious idea is for us to earn as little as possible the year before giving birth, try for low-intervention and low-cost methods of handling the maternity and labor, but then hopefully qualify for hospital financial aid if we end up with expensive complications. I hate risking like that, and being so underhanded!

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