I'm Leah, and in a lucky twist of fate, I've landed my three dream jobs:
book editor, writer, and mother. Since having my son in December 2008, my
work-life has been in constant flux - full-time? part-time? freelance?
working at home or in the office? It depends on the day and which way the
wind is blowing - and figuring out how to keep it all going is a constant
challenge. Heck, I'm still getting used to the idea of being someone's
Check out my profile on Work It, Mom! and my personal blog, A Girl and a Boy.
What follows is the last and final installment of “The Hidden Costs of Having a Baby.” (Here are Parts 1 and 2.) After this, you’ll be glad to know, we can move on to more pleasant and exciting things like, oh, actually having the baby! (At my doctor appointment last Wednesday, I was told the baby had dropped into position and was, at 35 weeks, already RIGHT THERE and showing little chance in making it to his due date! So…wow! Yikes! Let’s get this taken care of and move on to the fun stuff, eh?)
Without further ado, the last and most heinous Hidden Cost of Having a Baby is, dun dun DUUUUUN…
3. Health insurance. My company’s annual open enrollment period just came around, and since I’ve been up to my earlobes in charts about co-pays and deductibles and who covers how much of what, perhaps I’m a little more worked up about this than I should be, but OMG, AMERICA. FIX YOUR HEALTHCARE SYSTEM ALREADY. The good news is that most healthcare plans allow thirty days after the birth of your baby to secure him his own coverage, and before that he’s taken care of under a parent’s plan. The bad news is that that’s where the good news ends.
For most people, your healthcare costs will start adding up way before the baby makes his appearance: you might end up paying complete or partial amounts for prenatal checkups, routine bloodwork, genetic testing, ultrasounds, surprise trips to the emergency room, medications or dietary supplements, physical therapy, and any number of things you could never even predict. With that in mind, the best time to review your insurance coverage is before there’s a bun in that all-of-a-sudden-surprisingly-expensive-to-maintain oven. When we first started trying for a baby, I switched to an insurance plan that upped my coverage but, of course, also upped the price per month. I wasn’t even gestating a blastocyst at the point and yet, just like that, I was paying four times as much per month for my health insurance.
I hate insurance—I hate the paperwork, I hate the theory, I hate the way this country handles the entire process—but now that I’m (VERY) pregnant and staring down the (VERY CLOSE) barrel of a hospital delivery, I’ve never been so happy to have it. Just the other day, despairing over the few thousand dollars I’m likely to incur for hospital copays, I looked up the average cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth at several local L&D wards. And what would I be paying without insurance? $20,000. $30,000. $40,000. After I read that, why, I picked up my loathsome packet of health insurance paperwork and kissed it right on the mouth. They say that having a baby changes everything, but I never expected this!
In summary: Do not have a baby without health insurance. DO NOT HAVE A BABY WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE.
So, those are my top three Hidden Costs of Having a Baby: maternity-leave paycuts, child care, and health insurance. If you’re a working mom, you simply must have all three in some capacity. Can’t afford to have them, can’t afford to not have them; that’s the way the cookie crumbles, I’m afraid.
Now, one last thing before I stop freaking about money and start freaking (albeit happily) about having a baby in the very near future: Is there anything I missed that you would call a Hidden Cost of Having a Baby? I’d hate to cut the freaking short at the last minute (NOT).
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