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Friday, August 3, 2012

Hard Choices -- Now, It's Personal -- Healthcare, part 2

Perhaps you've heard how much I loved the birth of my daughter. Perhaps you know me well enough to know of passion for natural birth.

If you do or you don't, I'll be brief - I am passionate about natural birth. I believe it's what's best for mom & baby. I know it is what was right for me & my daughter. I know that if I have another baby, I want to do it again.

I won't go into the reasons why. The evidence and experiences that led me here. You might disagree with me. You might even think I'm out of my mind. Fine. That debate is not what this post is about.

This post is about choices.

Recently, I broke my silence regarding the healthcare law. I explained in theory why I support the Affordable Care Act - mandate and all.

But now, it's personal.

We want to have another baby. (Sort of. Or at least we think we do. But that's also a topic for another day. Or a never day.)

I loved the OB practice we used with our daughter. Go back them, right? Easy choice.
Except not. In the past 2 years, my insurance dropped my beloved OB. I don't begrudge my employee. Our benefits are top-notch, amazing even. Majority rules; economies of scale. Nearly every child-bearable employee was going to a branch of a large OB practice in town. I get it.

But I honestly felt punched in the gut when I learned about it. My choices - 1) Pick a new OB in-network. 2) Or go to my old one - and pay 30% of all costs instead of 10%.
Based on the research I did during pregnancy one, this is the only practice in town that is truly friendly to natural birth. 

So, get new insurance, right? Easy choice.
Except not. My husband looked into his employer's insurance. For starters, the premium was more than twice the cost of mine. (See, I really do have it really good.) Same story for an individual plan.

In 2014, if no one repeals it, the Affordable Care Act goes fully into effect. Insurance exchanges will increase my ability to pick & choose an insurance company & plan that fits my needs, not the needs of the majority of my co-workers.
So, wait till then to have a baby, right? Easy choice.
Except that's 2 years from now, and I'm already on the upper end of my child-bearing comfort zone. (Also not the topic of debate for the day.)

So, the hard choice. Just pay more for the thing I really want. If it's that important, do it. And it is that important. There are things I can give up, without too much pain, to make up the difference.
I know that's a luxury.
My mom (30+ years in insurance claims, till she moved here to spoil her granddaughter) crunched some numbers today. Thanks to a generously low deductible, the differential will actually be less than we thought. Just under $1400. My husband & I both work, and we (currently) have but one child. But that's still a lot of money to us. Can you imagine a family with one income and more kids? Or just more kids? Or a sick kid?
Not a luxury everyone can afford.

Speaking of cost differences. If you've had a baby, you know the hospitals require you to pay in advance for your birth. They estimate the cost, based on the average. I got around $200 back. That would have been just my cost for an anesthesiologist and epidural. I remember factoring it out at the time. I came up with a figure over $4000 dollars that I saved the healthcare system overall.

And I'll do it again. You're welcome.

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