By: Katherine Marple
Last year, I gave birth to my daughter and shared my pregnancy and birthing experiences with you. The pregnancy was a very difficult but extremely rewarding experience. A few months after our daughter was born, my husband and I discussed whether we’d have another child. On one hand, I went through several insulin shock comas, severe insulin resistance, and pre-eclampsia, ending in an emergency cesarean section. Because my first pregnancy was so tough, we weren’t sure if we wanted to risk another one. On the other hand, if we did have two children, we wanted them to be very close in age so that they could bond well. We figured that if the two children were around fifteen months apart, then my daughter would be too young to feel any tension about having another baby in the house. We hoped they’d be close enough in age that they would always have one another as a companion.
I am about 17 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and I couldn’t be happier with the way my body is responding to everything. I’m having minor nausea, much milder than the severe nausea that lasted my entire first pregnancy. I’ve only had one insulin shock coma and have increased my insulin regimen by only one or two units. Things are going great! However, there has been one obstacle that we’ve just barely surmounted at this point: We haven’t had any medical insurance for the duration of this pregnancy.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I carried the medical insurance for the family at my full-time job. My husband was a contractor, and his place of employment didn’t offer medical insurance. He scrambled for months to find a job that would offer insurance, but the job market is just barely beginning to lift its head. We spent months discussing the “what ifs” and fears of going without insurance. In the end, however, the decision was basically made for us. While I was on maternity leave with my first child, my workplace relocated farther from our house, which would have made my drive into work an hour each way. Accounting for gas, mileage, and daycare costs, I would have basically been working just to pay for a stranger to watch my child, plus insurance. So, six months after my daughter’s birth (the full maternity leave allowed at my place of employment), I officially quit my job so that I could stay home and raise her. It was a very difficult decision to make, but I still feel that it was the right one.
In my quest to find medical insurance for our family, I came across many closed doors. The cost of insurance is astounding, and it sickens me to even think about it. The lowest cost to cover my husband and daughter (neither have any medical conditions) was quoted at over $500 per month. COBRA insurance would have continued my previous insurance policy at a rate of $550 for myself alone.
Due to my pre-existing type 1 diabetes, only one insurance company would take me. The high risk insurance company offered me a plan for just over $900 per month (just to cover me, not my family), but would not cover the cost of my prescriptions for a full year. My prescriptions cost over $1,400 per month out of pocket and are the main reason that I need medical insurance. The high risk company didn’t care how well controlled my glucose levels are. They didn’t ask if I’ve been hospitalized for complications in the past five years. As soon as they heard the word “diabetes,” I was dropped into the risk pool.
I applied for multiple part-time jobs nearby, hoping to get medical insurance that way. Every job I applied did offer insurance for their part-time employees, but only after one full year of service.
After hundreds of phone calls and hours spent researching on the Internet, I found an insurance carrier who would accept my daughter and enlisted her on the HUSKY state insurance program. According to their policy, she had to go without insurance for two months before they would approve her. For myself, however, they have a specific state program tailored to people who have pre-existing conditions. The only way to get into that program (at $450 per month) is to first go without insurance for six months. That’s six months of out-of-pocket prescription costs with fingers crossed that no emergencies occur. But, despite how scary that trial period has been, we’ve managed.
We are still two months away from the end of our six-month wait. Even though I’m pregnant, the state program doesn’t consider the unborn child a member of the household until it’s born. Therefore, we don’t qualify for the state pregnancy program, despite having a high risk pregnancy due to type 1 diabetes and a history of pre-eclampsia. Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer a prenatal program if you actually want to keep the child.
Every doctor’s office that I called wouldn’t see me without medical insurance, even when I offered to pay cash. The inner-city pregnancy clinics would allow me to pay cash, but didn’t have the equipment to do ultrasounds, which are the only reason I would want to see a doctor at this point. My own obstetrician, who delivered my daughter last year, would allow us to self-pay, but charged $300 for a 15-minute ultrasound. The only procedure we had was an HCG blood test the first week of April, which confirmed our pregnancy.
I contacted the state insurance commissioner, the governor, and our senator to let them know the problems that citizens are facing in order to gain medical coverage. I received a response from Senator Blumenthal’s office, who called the state program on my behalf, hoping to push my application along. But so far, no progress has been made regarding obtaining insurance coverage through the state’s pre-existing conditions program. It’s been four months.
I’ve exhausted every avenue I can find to get prenatal care. Luckily, I remember most of the things I had to do to ensure a healthy baby. I’ve been managing my A1C very well, taking my prenatals and vitamins, watching my diet, and taking injections and monitoring my glucose levels more than ten times per day. Everything is going very smoothly with this pregnancy, luckily. Now, at 17 weeks, I can feel the baby moving around.
Happily, last week my husband was offered a position with the company where he works, and he will be gaining medical insurance coverage for the entire family as of June 18th. It is a huge weight lifted off our shoulders, and we can finally breathe easier. I am scheduled for my first ultrasound the first week of July. I am going to be 20 weeks along the first time we see our child, and the baby will be large enough to do a full anatomy scan. I have a few concerns, but overall this pregnancy has been less stressful than the pregnancy with my daughter. I believe it’s been less worrisome this time around because I already know that I can produce healthy, beautiful babies.
Now that we are out of the dark in the insurance affairs, it still concerns me that we struggled so much to gain insurance coverage. If my husband hadn’t applied to so many job listings and attended classes to boost his resume while he was working, we would still be in the midst of our six-month wait.
America is supposed to be the best country in the world to live in. America is supposed to stand by its families. I believe that many of us dream about being able to raise our own families on one income. Yet, for the sick, it’s nearly impossible to achieve this dream. In this country, if you are rich and have no health concerns, then you are free. If you are middle-class and actually need medical assistance, you are chained to the mega-pharmaceutical companies. It appalls me that even though I take better care of my health than the typical American, because I am labeled with a condition, I am not worthy of helping. I am seen only as a risk, an expense, a drain. It’s time we did a medical overhaul in this country. Something needs to change, and it needs to happen right now.