Category Archives: Childcare

Guilt and a Freelance vs Full-time Mommy?

For the last month I’ve been running to last minute interviews for a really big job that I wasn’t sure I was interested in. I’ve done next day phone interviews, meeting my husband at lunch to have him sit with our baby so I could run to another quick interview, and missing a half-day of a convention because I had to meet individually with a few people over a several hour long interview. It’s a bit odd. I’ve been a stay at home mom (freelancing from home) since our little baby A was born 9 months ago. I had also traded in about 8 months of full time in-office work for freelance at home work before I gave birth because of pregnancy induced fatigue. I feel … a bit off my game as far as my career goes. I’ve been freelancing, but I’ve limited the amount of work I’ve been taking in pretty drastically. Working no more than 25 to 30 hours a week. And I guess all this extra time has left me feeling… a bit deprived of the office life. Is that what I’m craving? Maybe that’s why I’m suddenly seeking a full-time office desk job– when that was exactly the opposite of what I wanted pre-baby. Suddenly my post-baby self is ready to give up freelancing … Perhaps I’m trying to abandon my responsibilities as a new mom? Or simply feeling overwhelmed by the isolation and loneliness (and lack of conversation) that I’ve been limited to…?

It was also really nice to dress up, wear some fancy clothes and shoes and look… nice. Like nicer than date night nice. Like… expensive well-paying job nice. No mom frumpiness was visible when I was dressed up. Someone even made a joke, assuming that I didn’t have kids. It felt nice. I guess I just miss the idea of being my old self. I mean I do go on baby-less date nights with the husband… but that’s only for a few hours… this job thing would be the whole day! I’d get to look nice, feel important (to others besides family), and design without little baby interrupting me every few minutes… I’m not sure why I’m suddenly thinking that I need is MORE time away from my baby… ? I’d be happier with more time… working? Maybe the postpartum mania is taking a hold of me…  This doesn’t sound right.

And here is where my thoughts always end:  Mentally preparing to leave A at home with someone else. I just can’t picture anyone else caring for him better than I can. I respect women who can go full-time and are able to deal with those emotions. I know that sometimes when you HAVE to do something, you do it, no matter how hard it is. Maybe that’s what I’m missing. I don’t HAVE to go to work. I can sit here and go back and fourth on getting a nanny or staying at home all day with him. At the same time being a stay at home mom is not what I originally wanted, and I’m not the best suited to stay with a baby all day. But maybe being his mommy and making an effort to be the best mom I can be is enough. And… perhaps, hiring help on the days when I need to work from home. Sometimes it’s a bit nuts trying to balance the two…!

Art by Laura_the_gal

Being Middle Class and Giving Birth in the Age of Obamacare

I love the idea of socialized healthcare. The Affordable Health Care Act is a great way of making health care more affordable for low income people and for a good amount of Americans who sign up for it. That’s not my issue. My issue here is for giving birth as a middle income family, who suddenly qualifies for a tax discount because of the birth of their first child… and trying to get coverage for that new baby for his first month of birth.

It started when we signed up for insurance through the Health Exchange website, way ahead of the deadline. The insurance we had prior was provided by my old employer, via COBRA, and expired in January 2014– we needed to find something quick! My husband and I are both freelancers living in NYC, so buying our own insurance was something we needed to do. I think we were paying about $1100 for the two of us, so we were very excited to see that for about $850 we could have even better coverage through another provider! The due date for our first baby was predicted for December 2013, and since coverage would start on January 2014, we thought it’d be easy to start off the year without any adjustments! Actually, we had also completed the estimate on the Health Exchange website again (to see if we’d qualify for a discount with our newest family member) and we did! But, obviously, we couldn’t apply until his birth, so we waited…

The doctors ended up being a bit off with our calculations, and I ended up giving birth the second week of January, at almost 43 weeks! Two days after, a bit burned out, I went back on the website, went through the all the form pages, and was offered two options. We could add him to Child Health Plus (a government subsidized program) for $30 a month with a nice discount of about $450, OR we could add him to our own insurance for $1250 a month… without any discount. Whaaaaat? Why were we restricted to only two options?

I called into the Health Exchange help line. They notified me that the discount only applied if we signed him up for Child Health Plus… and that was just the way it worked. Another issue, Child Health Plus did not cover retroactively, and took about 30 days to take affect. The Health Exchange rep mentioned the only way to get coverage for the month after his birth would be to sign him up for Medicaid… which we did not qualify for. So that meant, to get the discount, we’d have to let our newborn go without coverage for 30 days after birth??! I was then informed by the representative on the phone, that our current insurance company should cover him for the first 30 days until he had coverage through Child Health Plus, but that I should them call to confirm.

The next seven days were a series of back and fourth calls between the help line at the Health Exchange website and our current insurer to try to figure out who was covering him. There was no way I would feel comfortable letting my baby go without coverage for 30 days. There were too many things that could go wrong the first month after birth, and I needed the ability to bring him to a doctor (or hospital) as needed, without fearing debt.

Using up all the minutes on our family cell phone plan (mostly on hold for an hour at a time, per each call), I received two different responses from our health insurance that he’d be covered for 30 to 60 days after birth. I also received two responses stating that they didn’t know about any such policy and to call the Health Exchange, since they should be covering him. I did also get one response that he would not be covered by our insurance unless he was added to our health plan. Every single time I called the Health Exchange reps, I’d be told that I’d have to work something out with our insurer.

Four months later, and still figuring this whole thing out!

I am mostly upset that there was no written language of how new births would be handled on the Health Exchange. How can you claim to cover everyone, except for those newly born that aren’t very poor or very rich? It seemed that middle class families were left to fend for themselves, while everyone else was covered. Even with the unknowns of our son’s coverage, I still brought our baby to his first checkup. I wanted to make sure everything was okay. He’s turned out to be a healthy, thriving infant, who is doing great!

It’s now May 2014, and those visits have finally made it through our insurer. Guess what? They sent an ugly rejection letter in the mail, stating they would not cover it. The Pediatrician also sent a bill to the tune of $700 for the two visits in his first month and refuses to offer us a self-paying discount. We’re currently waiting on a response from our insurer, since I did not agree with their determination of benefits for non coverage.  I’m hoping that it doesn’t take a few more months to resolve this issue, nonetheless I’m sure it will.

Neither the Health Exchange or our insurer was very clear on coverage for a newborn for the first 30 days. There is nowhere in writing that stated anything about how it was supposed to be handled. It seems that the only way of handling it is to have the baby covered by Medicaid, isn’t of use if you’re unqualified. If we had the money (and the power) to go back in time, I would have avoided this mess and added him to our plan. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I hope our story brings to light one of the hidden pitfalls of the Health Exchange website. I still feel that it’s a great option for buying your own insurance, but perhaps we would have been more prepared if we had known of the issues with coverage for newborns in the first 30 days.