i don’t know how to insure my child

needless to say, i have been gobbling up the parenting books in the past few months. some are funny, some are helpful, some are just obnoxious. some make me realize how many little things i haven’t even stopped to consider when it comes to this whole parenthood lark. the book i am reading right now (the must-have mom handbook) has an entire chapter on how to educate & protect your kids from sexual predators. it’s all helpful info, & they do an excellent job of explaining that both boy & girl children can be preyed upon by sickos, & may respond differently, & differently-gendered warning signs to keep an eye out for, & even that the sexual abuse of boys by adult men has nothing to do with homosexuality. but…OMG! sexual predators! god, i hadn’t even thought about that!

i am officially five months pregnant now & while i was perusing some fetal development website for milestones, i noted that they recommended i start interviewing potential pediatricians. because, duh, newborn babies are supposed to go see their pediatricians like five days after they are born. on some level, i knew that, but on another level…i thought maybe some god of pediatricians just assigns one to you & you don’t actually have to do any work. but not only do you have to seek out & select a pediatrician before you even meet your baby, you also have to find a way to pay said pediatrician, ie, health insurance.

this isn’t so difficult for normal people with normal health insurance to which they can add a dependent by making a phone call or filling out some basic paperwork. but i’m a medicare recipient thanks to being on disability. medicare obviously doesn’t allow me to add a beneficiary to my plan. jared gets health insurance through the university, because he is employed by them, but for some reason, we assumed he couldn’t add a dependent either. in retrospect, this was kind of a dumb assumption. he has the same health insurance as all the professors & everything, & obviously they have insurance for heir spouses & children. so we were pleased to discover that he could add the baby to his plan. we were less pleased when we discovered that it would only cost $400+ a month! what a bargain, amirite? why, that’s only 20% of our total monthly income!

but, you know, surely there are subsidies that we would qualify for that would bring the costs down a little. jared went up to the university to ask around about this, & that’s when he discovered that his paperwork for this school year had been misfiled & he was classified as a student rather than an employee. not only does that eliminate the option to add a dependent to the plan, even if you are somehow able to afford the cost, but it also means that his own premium skyrockets like ten times in price (& trust me, the employee rate isn’t chump change). it’s fixable–it’s obviously just an HR mistake & they can re-file him properly. but we need to wait for them to take care of that, & then ask about subsidies, & then see if we qualify, blah blah blah. meanwhile, my due date is about 18 weeks away, & jared intends to spend eight of those weeks out of town doing dissertation research. & because this is all HIS insurance, there is nothing i can do while he’s gone to speed the process along. school will also be out of session for winter break for five of the weeks when he is here, & he won’t be able to pursue insurance questions then either because the university will be closed. so that leaves us five weeks until my due date during which we can get to the bottom of his mess. & perhaps i didn’t mention that three of those weeks will be spent with jared preparing for his master’s exams. & one will be spent on a “babymoon” together in boston. so…one week.

oh my god.

so i looked into healthwave, which is kansas’s medcaid program. income-wise, we qualify. on their website, they say they don’t count “social security or SSI income” toward the eligibility requirements. because my disability is the lion’s share of our income…does that mean they won’t count it? in which case we would qualify for the free insurance? or does it count as SSDI because it’s for disability, & therefore they will count it & we will only qualify for the subsidized insurance? it matters because apparently you can’t apply for healthwave on behalf of a newborn until said newborn is born. & obviously there’s a bit of a waiting period while your application is processed & considered. with the free insurance, you have three months of retroactive coverage once it kicks in, which means baby’s first visits to the pediatrician would be retroactively covered. but the subsidized insurance only takes effect upon approval, meaning any medical care the baby requires before the application is approved would be our financial responsibility. & considered that a simple blood draw at our local hospital costs $250 without insurance, this could swiftly break the bank.

naturally i called the helpful healthwave customer service line to inquire. first i asked if they would require proof of name change paperwork for me, since there’s a section on the application for “other names used”. the guy said, “if your name was changed on your birth certificate, then no.” huh? what does that mean? i legally changed my name & no longer use my former name, but i never got a new birth certificate with my new name on it. i have a new social security card & a new state ID, etc etc, but no one even told me it was possible to change your birth certificate, let alone that i should. i asked what proof of identity they would need & he said, “copies of your social security card, birth certificate, & state ID.” but…it’s illegal to photocopy to a state ID. i mean, people do it anyway, but it seems a little crazy for them to request an illegal photocopy to process an application for state-funded health care, right? i asked about the disability thing & he said, “we consider social security to be unearned income.” okay…what does that mean? it counts toward your income eligibility or not? he repeated, “we consider that income unearned.” o…kay…but could you answer the question? i’m also confused because most of my social security income is collected on my dad’s record, & that could be considered a social security pension, because it’s the money he would have collected had he lived to retirement age. i am supposed to classify the income myself on the application (SSI, social security annuity, social security disability), & i honestly don’t even know how to categorize it, let alone how each categorization would affect my eligibility. nor do i know how to find out.

so right now i am kind of hoping that we can just find some subsidies that will make it affordable to add the baby to jared’s insurance, because healthwave seems crazy complicated & confusing. but, as with all obnoxious things that have transpired during this pregnancy, i know it is but a taster of the crazy bureaucratic hoops i will have to jump through constantly on behalf of my child. argh!

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

One thought on “i don’t know how to insure my child

  1. Wow – that guy was totally not helpful at all. Have you considered checking to see if your hospital has Medicaid reps to meet with there? At hospitals in NY, there are usually reps from Medicaid available to chat and sign kids up for NYS’ Child Health First plan (sometimes they are just hanging out on the street in different neighborhoods with a mobile van) – particularly because so many kids who could be signed up, aren’t. These reps might not be any more competent then the guy you spoke with on the phone though…

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