Friday, January 8, 2010

The I word - Insurance!

Warning! This post is just one big rant.

I've been going through all our health insurance options lately. We have to choose Cobra or go under Chris' health plan. It's caused us a great bit of anxiety as medical costs are pretty crazy around here and are about to even get crazier. The problem is that neither of the options really fit our long-term needs. Cobra is super expensive, coverage is lower than the previous year's plan and it's only good for another year. The only thing attractive about Cobra vs. Chris' plan is that it does cover some therapy which would be handy from Oct - Dec. of this year when Emma ages out of the early intervention (EI) birth to age 3 plan. In EI all her therapies are covered by either insurance, the state, or a combination of both until she is 3. After that, Emma will get the services in the school system and I am skeptical that she will continue to progress as steadily as she is without some additional focused therapy.

As for Chris' plan, the downside is that it DOESN'T COVER ANY therapy for chronic conditions such as CP and has NO hearing coverage (don't even get me started on this one - when did hearing become a luxury????). Previously I would never have though twice about these exclusions, but Emma has CP and is deaf so you can guess that these exclusions just jumped off the page at me! Thank goodness that Emma has a secondary insurance for her disabilities that I am told will cover her ongoing hearing costs. As for the therapy, I have no idea what will happen come Oct. 1st. We might be able to successfully advocate for some private therapy coverage for Emma. I'm not sure how that will all work out, but I have a feeling it will. God has seen us through so much the past two years and each and every time I've gotten overwhelmed by the insurance stuff He has given us what we needed. So, I need to keep the faith that He will get us through whatever comes up.

The thing is, I know we have it better than many families in a similar situation. We live in a state that offers disability insurance for qualified children. In our area DE and PA offer this, MD and NJ do not and I have not idea how parents in these states pay for all the medical costs. We also were a bit older when we had our children so we already have a house and some savings, which many young couples starting off do not have. Not to mention that we are both well educated, speak English as our native language and have a good support network - all of which is very helpful in navigating the "system" and figuring our the insurance coverage when the coverage documents are written like an extended warranty sales pitch that covers everything until it's actually broken and then they bring out the fine print!

We finally decided on the best plan for us, but I still have some lingering insurance anxiety. Why? Do you know the cost to raise a child with multiple disabilities? Let me sum it up in one word: Staggering!

I've been following the health care reform in Washington as closely as my time permits. I've called all my representatives in D.C. multiple times and sent several email letters to each of them. I've sat in on town hall phone meetings on health reform. I even sent a message to President Obama directly. I've listened to many of the NPR discussions on this topic. I've never been this active on any political issue before and I believe that we have to take a stand as a nation and say enough is enough with our health care system and fix it.

Before Emma I might have been content to sit on the sidelines a bit more and I now think - shame on me! Why should I leave it to other people to decide how to change the system without providing my position? Our elderly know how to advocate for themselves, but who will advocate for our children? So many parents with children with special needs - that need to advocate for the health care reform - just don't have any energy left at the end of the day.

And who can make heads or tails of what the reform proposals are anyway? Not me. It seems to change as quickly as the wind changes direction. The one thing that is clear, though, is that something will change. And I hope that the changes will decrease my anxiety over health insurance for Emma! I certainly have given at least my two cents worth to my representatives in D.C. to try and turn my hope into a reality. Have you?

6 Comments from readers:

MoonNStarMommy said...

I have to say we are lucky right now with our insurance. But I hear you on the Early Intervention. Nathan is turning 3 this April and I'm afraid of what will happen after. I know with my son Noah, the school system did NOT provide therapy well. You get so use to having great people supporting your child and helping you support your child, and then it just stops. I have to wait to see what they offer this time around, but I don't think it will be much better.

MoonNStarMommy said...

oh I forgot, I found you via the Kidz site and am adding you to my blog roll :D

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I have not been very active in making my voice heard in the discussion and your post has inspired me to do so.

If our elected officials do nothing else to improve the system, can't everyone agree that no child with disabilities should go without care in this country? Or that their families should not be dealt the hand of bankruptcy, losing their homes, etc.?

We should at least be able to easily decide to take care of the most vulnerable people in our country.

Tricia said...

Emailing you!

JNR said...

I so agree with you Kristina. The health care options in this country are just crazy. Employers struggle with our ludicrous system as much as we the consumers struggle. I'm on COBRA myself and it so SO expensive but it's the only coverage I can get that will cover pre-existing conditions. I hope for your family's sake and that of all Americans that health care reform happens and that it includes a public option.

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