March 2, 2010

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

The last big decision we made last year was to ask Justin's boss to take away the extra money he'd been giving us each month to help pay for our health insurance. The company he works for is small, actually come right now it's just him and his boss. Who doesn't provide health insurance. We've been on an individual plan for several years, and last summer they wanted to raise our rates by $100 a month. We couldn't afford to pay for a plan whose premium had increased 50% over 3 years, and had no choice but to switch to a cheaper plan with a MUCH higher $3000 deductible. About 2 months before we got pregnant. Sigh...

SO, we looked into maternity insurance through the Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS) and children's medicaid. And found out we were only about $300 away from qualifying for coverage. So, we asked for a pay cut. I'm not going to talk about how it made me feel that we had to do that. I value my husband highly and his company does not value him to my standards.

We got our letter this week saying that we are qualified and will be receiving our medical coupons shortly. It has taken a huge weight off my shoulders because we would have ended up paying for over $3000 of the birth, and if for some reason I have to transfer to the hospital? It would have put us right back in a huge debt rut. As it is now, we have payment plans for ultrasounds I had last year, and it will take us 10 months to pay off the full bill. Despite the fact that we have moved into our father-in-law's house, we still struggle financially. This month is the first time in a long time that I've seen a little light at the end of that tunnel. That maybe we can get on a budget next month that will actually allow us to replace the money we had to take from Sam's savings account and start building a small savings account for ourselves. It cuts our monthly health insurance cost by more than 50%.

In addition to covering me for maternity, it covers all other healthcare during this time, including dental. This means that I will be able to get my fillings and get my teeth cleaned, which we have not been able to afford. We also qualify for WIC. The main reason that was another weight off my shoulders is because of the breastfeeding issues I had with Sam - mainly that I wasn't able to. So I have found myself thinking with some sense of dread about the cost of formula. I know the second time is different, but between my history, my mom's history, and the way things have developed this pregnancy, I am 100% certain I will at the very least need to supplement with formula. WIC will also pay for basic things for us - milk and cheese for Sam and bread and cereal and eggs.

This is another issue that I know can be a hot topic. State assistance can be a real button pushing issue for some people. But I choose to write about it, and not feel like I'm doing something wrong by accepting help when I need it. There are people out there who might look down on me because we receive what we do. The reality is that we are good, responsible people. We are not taking advantage of anything, we just need a little help for a little while until something changes. I wish that the people who choose to look down on recipients of state insurance, food stamps and welfare could understand that the majority of the people using it are just in need for a little while. Until we get back on our feet.

I also think it's a major shame that it's not commonplace to talk about financial issues in our culture, which is one reason that I wrote about our bankruptcy several times on my blog. It happens, and it can happen to ANYONE. I know that now because it happened to me, and because I talked about it, I know that almost everyone I know has either had it happen to them or to someone they know. Yet, it is full of shame and quiet. We need to teach our children how to handle their money so they don't end up in the same situations that we have, and I think being open about it is the first step.

In terms of getting back on our feet, keep your fingers crossed in March. Justin has an interview for a computer programming job and I think it would be pretty great. It would mean a pay raise as well as getting insurance through his job again, which would be wonderful.


Kat said...

I am so glad that you were able to get the health care that you needed. My husband has a good job. We have health insurance coverage...but with our catastrophic event last year, our monthly bills for "our portion" of the hospital stay, therapy, and helicopter transportation - it's killing us. I wish the people in Washington would put politics aside and figure out a way for people to get the coverage they need...

Enz said...

That's what you pay taxes for, so you have help when you need it. There is nothing shameful in accepting available help when you need it.


I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the job for Justin!

Dumblond said...

I get absolutely livid at people who turn down their noses at those who are getting help from programs like WIC. My parents had to utilize it when I was very young, my brother had to for a little while and so did a dear friend when her husband got laid off suddenly. No one was taking advantage of the system! They just needed a little help for a short time.
Are there people who take advantage of these programs? Absolutely. But that in no way justifies grouping people like you or my family with them and assuming that you are just looking for some easy money.
Good for you, good for Justin. You are both stepping up and making sure that your family stays healthy and happy.
And good luck to Justin on his job interview!

Audrey at Barking Mad said...

"This month is the first time in a long time that I've seen a little light at the end of that tunnel."

That's one of the best things I've read from you in a long time. It's a nice feeling isn't it...finally being able to see that light.

And listen, YOU PAID into the system and it's for situations like this that it's designed. Don't feel guilty or bad or inferior, because you aren't!!!!

Mimi said...

This is a fantastic post. I was on WIC with my boys & I refused to hang my head or be embarassed.