One of my favorite things about parenting is watching my kids when they don’t know I’m watching. When they are just getting a new skill, face scrunched up in concentration- making a new friend, eyes wide and open to connection- sleeping, long lashes framing their cheeks just so. I’ve imagined what it would be like to study this next child- how he or she will differ from older brothers, how they’ll be the same.
This morning I was watching my oldest child sleep- for some reason with his arms crossed in front of him like a crazy nutcracker creature- and reflecting on the insurance drama we currently face.
Yesterday Aetna rejected our third quarter payment, explaining that we failed to authorize the correct amount for the credit card. We authorized the rate they listed for adding child(ren). [sic] This is the same amount we’ve been paying for the past two years for our family of four- generated by Aetna’s online enrollment form. To shift to her interpretation of their charges would mean an additional 755.00 per quarter, per child. So this quarter we’d add 755.00. In a week or a month- whenever this next child arrives, it’d be 1500.00 more per quarter. No matter how we crunch the numbers or scrimp and save, it’s not doable. We will have to choose not to insure some or all of our family.
Our income would qualify us for low-income insurance in Indiana, except that we’re currently insured, making us ineligible for Healthy Hoosiers. We could attempt to drop our income and re-qualify, or take a chance and go without insurance for a while to change our eligibility. Both options gamble with our kids’ health and security.
In deciding to bring a third child into this world, we thought about the expenses. We considered that in a few years, this being would impact our grocery and housing, that in several years all our money would be siphoned off into education costs. We also considered that we have few needs for this child, already having plenty of clothes, cloth diapers and baby equipment. Breastfeeding means we don’t need to worry about formula costs and I stopped buying “baby food” when Carter was an infant. We could bring a child into the world before I turned forty, and by the time he or she started being expensive we’d be out of grad school and back in the real world income wise.
We also considered that we have a family insurance rate rather than buying individual plans. Most of our expenses would remain the same in the coming year, even with a new soul in our midst.
Now though, we face wondering which child might have the fewest health problems so we can cut him out of our insurance plan. Perhaps the hole in Carter’s ear can wait another year. Archie’s always been pretty healthy outside of his teeth. Maybe we should let them swing in the uninsured breeze and make sure the unknown baby has full coverage just in case.
I took one last look at my crazy nutcracker sleeper and quietly left the room. I didn’t want him to wake up to see Mom crying- wondering how she could make a choice that puts his well-being at risk.
Update: Heard from Aetna who had our home number written down incorrectly. They have requested that our application be expedited, apologized for adding stress to our family this week and clarified the price. We are all insured.