Claire Walsh

When I was pregnant with my first child, I lived in California and worked for the state and had amazing health insurance. I paid $30 at my first prenatal appointment and that was it for the entire thing- sonograms, genetic testing, birth, everything. My second child was a completely different story. We lived in Kansas City and had private health insurance through my husband‘s employer. With a high deductible plan, and a family out-of-pocket max of $10,000, I paid $10,000 for my prenatal care in 2019, and then another $4000 to meet my deductible when my daughter was born 1 February 2020. Everything was so expensive I felt like we were constantly being charged for things, even things that I thought would be covered! I work in healthcare so I know a little about what procedures/labs are necessary and covered and I spent hours on the phone arguing with the insurance company about why this or that lab or procedure wasn’t covered only to hear “that goes toward your deductible”. In other words, we do cover that but not yet, not for you! You need to hurt a little more financially before we will chip in to help with that cost. Specifically, my prenatal screening bloodwork wasn’t covered and I went round and round with the lab, doctors office and insurance company because it’s standard of care and preventative! Should be covered! Finally a very patient man from the insurance company explained that the Trump administration excluded that blood work from what was preventative care. It was maddening. On top of all of the medical bills, after having started a new job I learned that there was no parental leave, no option to rollover my vacation, and that I had accrued enough sick leave to allow me to have a 2wk paid leave after my birth. Mind you, I worked at the YMCA! An organization that exists to promote healthy behaviors and cater to families! So we met our deductible with my prenatal care in 2019, turned right around and met another deductible with my daughters birth in February 2020, and I was staring down an unpaid leave in order to rest and recover from childbirth, which as we all know takes quite a bit longer than 2wks. Another fun fact, did you know that even though the baby stays in the room with mom they charge you separately for the baby’s hospital stay room and board? She slept in my bed, only ate breastmilk, but we still had to pay for room and board for her hospital stay. Ridiculous. It’s been two years and talking about it still makes my blood boil. I’m lucky that I had a good job and my husband has a good job and these costs did not sink us, but I think every day about what would’ve been different if that were not the case. And it makes me so angry that we live in a society with so much excess and yet we still can’t get it together to support our fellow citizens when they need healthcare. In order to save money, I thought long and hard about doing a homebirth or or using a birthing center, but my first daughter was born prematurely and I worried that I would have to pay the midwife, and still go into labor early and have to go to the hospital anyway. I’m happy to talk more about this if my story fits within narrative that you’re trying to push

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