Monday, June 4, 2012

Baby choices

The Faery only has eight days of school left, meaning one thing: if I want to have a decent clear out of junk before we move, I need to pull my finger out. Throwing out crappy McHappy Meal toys (she doesn't get them often, but I swear those toys breed) and other annoying 'treasures' is only possible in stealth mode - in other words, when she's at school.

I got started this morning, but became side-tracked by various baby paraphernalia. I've actually been fairly good about passing on no-longer needed baby items as Miss Pie has grown, but there are still a few little things I'm yet to part with. I found myself staring at them today, wondering, in case we need them again... which is silly, considering how much I've already given away to Goodwill.

My ideal number of kids has always been two, but we haven't officially ruled out a third. Two is good for now but there's that saying: never say never. We often joke about how if we had another while we lived in the US, the child would have dual citizenship - which could be a handy thing for that child, down the track. God only knows applying for visas is a painful process. American bureaucracy has to be experienced to be believed.

Then J came home from work last week, less than thrilled with some changes that had been announced. Like most American companies, the one he works for is cutting costs, and that's meant skimping on the health care plans - to the point where some employees (who have dependent family members with ongoing health issues) may have to seriously consider changing jobs in order to get better health care.

(I think it is completely fucked up that in a 'first world nation', a person's well-being is so dependent on the health care plan provided by their employer, and the precarious position it puts them in each time they change jobs. Call me socialist, whatever, I don't care. It is a major flaw in this so-called land of the free.)

Courtesy of these cuts, we will now pay a higher co-payment for each trip to the doctor. Luckily for us, we're a pretty healthy bunch but there are no lifetime guarantees when it comes to good health, right?

J joked, "There goes any idea of having an American baby" because the minimum cost would set us back $6,000.

Six. Thousand. Dollars. 

For a basic hospital stay - assuming it was a straight-forward birth. That's not even including the costs of pre-natal health care with an obstetrician.

How on earth do poor people afford to have children in the US? Something is very wrong.

Now I feel even more grateful for the Australian health care system (all I can say is, Australians who complain about it have not experienced health care in other countries). In Sydney, for pre-natal care, delivery and hospital stay - for both the Faery and Miss Pie - we paid nothing. Not a cent, and received excellent care through a midwife-run birth centre that was attached to the labour ward at our local public hospital.

How lucky do I feel?

Six thousand dollars to give birth? I know there are plenty of people who wouldn't blink at that, and willingly pay through the nose for an obstetrician - both here and in Australia. The difference is that in Australia, there's (generally) a choice. There are some great things about life in the US, but this is not one of them.

The remaining baby items I'm yet to part with have been put into a box for now. I am excellent at procrastination... but it's looking as though the box is more likely to end up at Goodwill than our next apartment.

On the bright side, baby stuff is so cheap to buy here - never say never, right?


  1. Poor people don't pay for births because all pregnant women can get free health care from the government. I had to use it with the twins because Rob's job would not let me be on his health care plan. They wouldn't even give him health care until he'd worked there 9 months. I paid $2000+ out of pocket for Jensen's birth, which as a 20 year old with no job (lost it due to being sick while pregnant, Rob lost his due to the economy) took us 2 years to pay off. The twin's birth alone would have cost us $15000 out of pocket, not including the almost 2 week NICU stay. Now we pay our taxes and we've both worked so I do not feel guilty using state aid when we had no alternative (I thought like other jobs he'd get health care after 3 months of working there, which would have made me 8 weeks pregnant so we kept trying even without it since OBs won't even see you until 8 weeks). But it definitely wasn't what I would have chosen had I had an alternative. Even though I have to admit I am so very glad we weren't strapped with a huge bill we would have been paying off until the twins got into middle school.

    1. There's no shame in using state aid! I'm relieved to hear there is something in place like that, but it still seems so wrong that people can be burdened with huge medical bills for something like giving birth. And that conditions upon access to health care are so tied up with length of employment. It shouldn't be that way. Two years to pay off Jensen's birth? That makes me so sad. Thank you for sharing, Amy.

  2. Yes, I will never complain about our system. It's incredible and I feel unbelievably lucky when I hear of stories like these.

    An American baby would have been kind of cool, huh? But better to hurry on home and have one here instead...yes?


    1. Ha! Whenever I start getting clucky, P will end up pooing about 6 times that day, and I remind myself that once she's toilet-trained, there will be no more wiping bums... and that is a very good thing. Very good ;)