Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Babies! - what was it like to have one in the United States :) pt I - costs and insurance

One of my friends suggested I'd write about having a baby in the good ol' U.S of A. No worries, this won't be one of those TMI birth stories, just a description of what happened.

A lot of my friends in Finland have asked me how was it different from having a baby in Finland and to be honest, I really have no idea! I've never had a baby in Finland, nor do I really plan to. My friends have told me something about their experiences and judging by those I'd definitely choose Nebraska over Finland. That is, if I had the money to choose...

Having a baby in the United States is extremely expensive. Even with a really good insurance you'll probably end up paying quite a bit for having the baby. I have to say that I was one of the really lucky ones and got state insurance due to my low income. I was working as an archivist/conservationist when I got pregnant and only had travel insurance from Finland and grad student medical insurance from the University. Neither of these two covered a normal pregnancy; the travel insurance covered complications, but not for example a normal childbirth. The university insurance considered pregnancy like any other disease (yup, that's what they told me), 20% co-pay and there was also a limit to the costs. Before someone says "why didn't you get a better insurance, if you knew you were getting pregnant!", I'll admit that getting pregnant was a huge surprise for me, I'm one of the 2-3%. But it was a happy surprise, I didn't know I wanted to have children until I got pregnant :) As for getting a better insurance than my current ones, it wasn't really an option. I had a pre-existing condition (pregnancy) and no commercial health insurance company was going to accept me.

After I found out I was pregnant, I planned on returning to Finland. I planned on working for a few more months and then flying back. Turns out I had one of those extremely complicated pregnancies, spent majority of it hugging the toilet/plugged into an IV/in bedrest. My doctor told me that I was under no circumstances allowed to fly, so I was stuck. Luckily the state of Nebraska at that time was extremely lenient when it came to cases like mine. I got the limitless state insurance, because my baby would be a U.S citizen when born on American soil (to an American father as well I might add). Now I was incredibly lucky, because right after I had my baby, the state changed it's policy and no foreign person, pregnant or not, is anymore eligible to the state insurance. Previously only pregnant women were eligible, since they were giving birth to future citizens, whose medical bills became the state's problem after they were born. And as everyone knows, good prenatal case helps to lower healthcare costs after birth. The policy was changed due to political reasons, since "undocumented immigrant women were having babies with taxpayers money". What the general public failed to understand was that once these babies were born, taxpayers would pay the healthcare costs anyways and would end up paying more, since there would be more problems with these babies, who had not received prenatal care. But this is a political issue I might tackle at another time.

So I got the state insurance, which was a very good thing, since the hospital I had my baby in estimated that the costs were over $50 000, probably closer to $100 000. So when I say it's expensive to have a baby in the U.S, I mean it's ridiculously expensive. Obviously a normal childbirth does not cost this much. Unfortunately I had to stay at the hospital multiple times during my pregnancy and had ultrasounds every month and on my last trimester, every week, sometimes twice a week. I had serious blood pressure problems and prolonged nausea, which caused me to be stick thin. In fact I was so thin, that when I had to have an x-ray, the nurse asked me if there was any chance I was pregnant. I was eight months pregnant and had the baby the same day :-) And in order to kill the possible suspense right here, I ended up having a perfectly healthy (tall and skinny) baby boy :)

Basically the state insurance (also known as Medicaid) paid for everything, including cab rides to the hospital/clinic. I would just order a cab 24hrs before my appointment and they'd come and pick me from my doorstep. This was a necessity, since I didn't have a driver's license and there was no public transportation to speak of.

I decided to publish this entry in four parts, so to be continued... :)

It's a boy!

Pt I, Pt II, Pt III, Pt IV


Eveliina said...

Huh! Mielenkiintoista!! Jatkoa odotellen.. ;)

Sugar said...

:) Kakkososa ilmestynee huomenna!