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Fear, failure, humility, etc.

Last Friday, just before we sat down to dinner, we learned that we had missed the window for enrolling Owen in our health insurance and would be unable to do so until open enrollment and unable to cover him until 2009. This was entirely our fault. As I sat there, trying to force myself to eat, trying not to panic or cry, I just kept looking down at Owen asleep in my lap and thinking how he was barely a month old and I had already failed him in such a spectacular manner. I was terrified - what if something horrible happened? What if he got sick or hurt and we ended up bankrupting ourselves with medical bills because we hadn't gotten off our asses to fill in a form on time? What if he was just a little sick and I decided not to take him to the doctor because I didn't want to have to pay for it and it turned out he was more than a little sick and I made him worse because I was worried about the money? What if he was turned away from a hospital or refused something he needed because he didn't have insurance?

Because it had never been an issue for me, it took me a while to realize that you can just buy health insurance. So I got online. I figured we would just get a policy to cover anything catastrophic and pay everything else ourselves. But most of those policies only cover 80%. And when I pulled our claims for Mia I found that some of her well baby visits run close to $300, and the very minor medications she has taken have at times hit $150 a month. So we decided we would buy a comprehensive policy to the tune of $300 a month.

It turned out that we were able to get Owen added to our current coverage, and I assure you we were hugely relieved. And while I would have been unhappy to pay $300 a month to cover Owen on top of the substantial amount we already pay to cover the rest of us, we would have been able to pay it. We would have been able to pay it and still pay the mortgage and buy groceries and gas and Mia would still have had ballet lessons and gone to preschool and we even would probably still have ordered the occasional pizza and gone on the occasional date. That ability is partly due to hard work, but not entirely. Lots of people work hard and can't afford health insurance for themselves or their children. It also has a lot to do with luck, and privilege.

I'm not entirely sure what my point is here, except that it was a new and unpleasant experience for me and I intend to remember that feeling of fear and helplessness very clearly so that I may stop taking my privilege for granted.

Comments (39)

Don't be too hard on yourself. You were a little busy the last month and ~hello~ you added a whole new human being to your family!
I am so glad that Owen is safely insured now and that all will be well.
Does this go into the "Alls well that ends well" category?

I second Maribeth. Sweetie works at a small company and their health coverage is great, and we found ourselves in similar situations. It worked out in the end, but I think this is so much more common that you might think. I'm happy it all worked out though!!

I echo previous noters... although I do understand the propensity to beat yourself up over something like that.
I thank my lucky stars every day that I have insurance, even on days when I'm cursing it for it's 80% coverage and the ridiculously high medical bills I've had to pay. In the long run, I know how incredibly blessed I am to have any coverage.

I am really, really glad he ended up being on your policy after all. Insurance crises such as the one you describe send my internal organs right into my throat.

Well, if its any help... your little oversight (which I am glad worked out in the long run) was enough to have me MAKE SURE that my husband does what he needs to to get our future bambino/a on the policy within the right amount of time...


I'm so glad you got coverage for him. But you know, shit happens. My most humbling and horrifying moment this week was having my electricity shut off. Seriously. WTF? It was awful. So things happen and we scramble and find a solution.

Also, I am in the group of people who has health insurance but can't afford to use it. SCORE.

Thanks for sharing this little wake-up call. It never would have crossed my mind that something like this could happen, though you are right, once I thought about it, I'm certain it happens every single day. The ability to take health coverage for granted truly is a privlege, and in these times when it often feels (for me, at least)as though we are struggling simply to remain a tiny step above paycheck to paycheck this is a much needed reminder for me to be greatful for my luck and privilege.

Oh, and I'm so glad it worked out!!

Obama 2008. He's supposed to fix things like this, right ? Or move to Canada. I pray that I will never have to worry about health insurance, except when travelling of course.

Don't be hard on yourself. Health care is scary.

When i saw Chris' post about the health insurance thing my first thought was, Beth is going to kill him.

I'm glad it turned out to be ok.

DH was laid off last november....Happy thanksgiving to your four kids, yo!....We were lucky enough to have an emergency fund to carry us til he was employed again but the scariest thing was to NOT have health insurance for the four kids....a very humbling experience.

I love you.

My son and I have been uninsured for a few years and's scary. Insurance is on the horizon with the end of college in site and a real job waiting in the wings.

We have insurance but it's not the best. The amount we have to still pay out of pocket keeps me up at night sometimes, freaking out.

But we still have insurance. A lot of people don't. And though we have to start payment plans with almost everyone involved in Theo's birth, we're still better off than a lot of people and I have to remember that.

Great post, and so glad everything worked out.

loss of health insurance is one of my biggest fears--my husband has some serious chronic illnesses and would never be able to buy health insurance "off the shelf" so if we lose our employer coverage I have NO idea what we would do. It's so darn scary. Currently we have the best medical coverage of anyone I know but I try not to take it for granted. The up side of state employment ;)

Glad it worked out with Owen.

so glad it all worked out!

I did a year with three kids, one of which being asthmatic, with no insurance. I am so glad you got it straightened out. It's hell on wheels, I tell ya.

I am hugely relieved that everything worked out for you. It's totally ridiculous that there's this tiny window of time to add the bambino - I know it's that way with pretty much EVERY company. I'm sure the only reason we added our small one in time is because we were taking him back to the hospital several times those first few weeks for bloodwork and I was fed up with having to pay 100 bucks out of pocket every single time.

I cant believe that. We waited a good couple months and it was never an issue. I thought it totally didnt matter that they had to add they exist and are part of your family so they have to add them? How did you get it changed? I have just never heard of that before and it wasnt an issue for us. Crazy. Please tell me how you were able to get him on.

That's NOTHING! When my husbandís company switched to a new insurance provider, each employee had to fill out his or her own enrollment form. My husband FORGOT TO INCLUDE OUR 2 YEAR OLD SON. FORGOT.

And we didn't even realize it until the insurance company refused to pay on his Wellbaby visit.

It all ended ok, but boy did it take allot for me not to blow up because HE FORGOT!

Dude. You built a whole human! You should not allow yourself to feel guilty about forgetting some paperwork.

What a great post, I'm glad everything worked out with adding Owen to your insurance. It's nice to have a reminder like this to be grateful for what we have. As a struggling nursing student, sometimes I don't have enough money, but I can pay for the roof over my head and necessities, so I am doing ok. :)

As a Canadian, I find that the more I read about American bloggers paying for and using healthcare in the States, the more grateful I am for the low cost/free healthcare we enjoy in this country. It's something I had never really thought to appreciate before I found out that people pay what's sometimes equal to a mortgage payment to cover their family's health insurance. I have never had to worry about what a doctor's visit would cost my family (I admit I don't even know what the doctor charges the Provincial Insurer for a visit). I have never had to put out money up front for a visit. I am free to see any doctor I choose, so long as they're taking new patients (which is sometimes hard, but so what) I can walk into an emergency room worrying only about the person who I'm taking there and not about the cost. A big accident or disease is never likely to bankrupt my family. I have never had a time limit put on me for filling out forms when my kids were born, so they'd be insured.

I can imagine what kind of stress this put on you and Chris as you scrambled to get Owen insured and I'm so glad it was resolved for you.

I just changed jobs moving from a large fortune 500 company to a small company of about 20. We now have to pay 75% of our health insurance. It totaly sucks. Next year we are seriously going to look into buying insurance ourselves rather than paying so much and having no plan choices from my employer. (Or, hopefully my husband will get a great job and we will be covered by his plan.)

When I graduate from college in May. And I will lose my health insurance.

I'm scared to death.

I'm generally a healthy person. Just the occasional doctors visit. And my monthly pack of birth control pills. But I can't help but be terrified, of what I'll do if perhaps something does happen to me.

I work my butt off, but I live in NYC and just barely get by every month. Its a horrible knot in the pit of your stomach, when you start going through all of the what-ifs.

Oh lord. So relieved that he is covered. My first response was absolute astonishment -- they should NOT have such a narrow window for getting a new baby on board! Good grief!

It is definitely scary, and we had a period of time where we were health insurance-less, when I lost my job (and the insurance) and before we could get on husband's. We had just the 1 baby, and we went to the department of health for his vaccinations (free). It was definitely scary time, because we could NOT afford the extra $blahblah for outside insurance, and it was all of us, not just baby :(

Going from full-time to part-time when the baby came meant losing my free (company-paid insurance {20% copay}). Not that we ever could have afforded the cost of adding the child (or my husband) to my policy anyway. Medicaid covered the baby for 6 months, but then dropped him. We don't make enough to be able to afford insurance despite the hubby working full-time + overtime and me working part-time since the baby was 9weeks-old, but we make too much to qualify for Medicaid. Luckily I work in the healthcare field, and had people I could look to for medical advice and help with immunizations. Still, every day I pray none of his bumps, bruises, and cuts will ever be serious. I never had insurance growing up, and I remember breaking my finger when I was 8 and my mother actually asking me "How broken do you think it is." Poor, Mom. I'm so glad you guys got that beautiful boy taken care of. It must have been an awful feeling. P.S. He really is so beautiful.

My thoughts are almost identical to Procrastamom's. I am so thankful that I live here in Canada. So, so thankful. I mean, I had to have surgery a couple years ago, and I just can't even imagine :-/

Seriously? $300 for a well baby visit? Get a new doctor, you're getting screwed.

When my son's father lost his coverage, Seth had to go to a few visits under the "cash" plan. We paid $70. And that's in one of the most expensive area codes in Texas. You should ask them, for shits and giggles, what the cash cost is. It will surprise the shit out of you!

We just watched Sicko, the Michael Moore movie about health insurance, over last weekend and I have to go with the Canadian posters...and any French or UK ones as well...the US healthcare system really sucks! Even people WITH insurance suffer greatly trying to get coverage, etc. and die waiting.

We shouldn't HAVE to remember to add our children during the newborn haze days. Besides, the big bill from the maternity ward at the hospital should have been a clue for the ins co!

I doubt we'll ever have the kind of coverage every other Western nation has. It makes me want to move to France. They get their laundry done for FREE after they have a newborn.

Don't beat yourself up about this. You were busy adjusting to having Owen and recovering from the delivery.

I can beat you on this one. A few years ago we lost over $1000 because we missed the deadline for turning in receipts for our medical flex account.

We did the same thing--my husband forgot to add one of the kids and then got a huge surprise when she wasn't covered for some very large bills. She was breech and the in-hospital pediatrician (young!) insisted that she see a specialist for hip dysplasia that we wound up having to cover. (The specialist said all breech babies have hip dysplasia, for the record). Fortunately, he is not averse to fighting on the phone for hours and we got her added to the insurance in the end, but for many reasons, it was scary. We work hard too, but sometimes the area you live in sucks up the extra money so that $300 a month would be a big deal. I never used to worry about insurance but with kids, I'm grateful for it all the time, as well as the job that provides it. It's always good to remember just how lucky you are.

I agree with Kendra. I think it's insane that we have to remember to add our newborn to our insurance policy. That should happen when they get the hospital bill. Or at the very least, allow for more than 30 days for adding children. INSANE.

So glad you were able to get things straightened out. Our doctor's visits aren't cheap, either (not $300, but not cheap), but we love Kara's pediatrician, so there you go.

You could move to France. Which my husband and I contemplate doing on a regular basis after watching Michael Moore's Sicko. Now I just need to get my extended family to move there and learn French before this will ever be my reality.

Yep, makes me glad on at least one count that I live in the UK.

I understand what you mean, my hubby just switched jobs and has no benefits for the first few months. We are able to pay for COBRA which is necessary since Anthony is still going in every month or two for baby stuff. I had the same realization, I am so thankful that we can afford to pay that payment every month without changing much about how we live.

Great post. I completely hear every word. And not to get too political, it's also why I am completely flummoxed that health insurance isn't right at the top of the priority list for every single person in this country.

We complain so much about the health care here in Ireland but OH MY GOD at least you don't have to worry about going bankrupt!All injections and well baby clinics are free aswell as all pre-natal and for 6 wks post natal. This post makes me greatful for our health care and I'm going to think about this the next time I want to have a moan.For all I love about your country, this sends shivers down my spine.

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