I'm incredibly lucky. I've never had to worry about health care. You see, I was born into a military family and CHAMPUS, and then TRICARE, covered me until the day I got married. (Note to naysayers of "government run" health care: TRICARE covers all active duty military families.)
Then I was on my husband's employer paid health insurance through law school and up until I started working full time as a lawyer. As you may imagine, working for a law firm provides excellent benefits. In fact, my first law firm covered 100% of my health insurance premium and a very large percentage of my husband's and then Hollis's premiums.
When we moved down to Southeast Virginia and I left my law firm with the fabulous benefits, we switched to T's plan offered through his company. It was basically the same plan offered by my new law firm, but we were required to pay less of the premium. So, we had a lot of choices. Either way, we always knew that our family would be covered.
When I was pregnant with Hollis I developed gestational diabetes. I had a high risk pregnancy and many complications, one of which resulted in twice weekly ultrasounds, constant biophysical profiles at the hospital and an emergency c-section on a day I certainly wasn't planning to have a baby. The bills for my pregnancy, surgery and our hospital stay easily topped $70,000. With Holden, we went through the same routine but the high risk care and constant monitoring started even earlier because we already knew what was going to happen. So with Holden, I probably easily racked up $80,000 in bills.
Out of the $150,000 or so in pre-natal and hospital care I received, we paid maybe $1000. And I'm erring on the high side in my estimate. Feel free to hate me, but I know how lucky I am. Never once did I have to worry about how I would pay for my medical care. Never once did I have to choose between paying my mortgage or paying for the ultrasounds that ensured my babies were healthy while housed in my flawed, diabetic body.
When I read stories like Sophie's, I realize just how lucky I am. I never had to worry about a choice between healthy children and bankruptcy, or owning a home, or buying groceries. Those are choices a mother should simply never have to make.
In response to all of this, MOMocrats is running a series called "Hear My Story." With this series, we'll be highlighting the stories of mothers, real people like all of us, and their experiences with our current health care system: mothers like Natalie, who has fought tooth and nail and given up career advancements to ensure that her daughter can remain insured; mothers like Karoli, who lives in fear that her husband has undiagnosed heart disease that they simply can't afford to have diagnosed; mothers like Sheila, who have discovered that something as simple as an ear infection can render us "uninsurable;" mothers like Jennic, who have survived cancer only to discover that insurance companies won't touch her with a 10 foot pole.
If you'd like to participate, grab the button code below and share your story. We'll be collecting your stories and hand delivering them to key elected officials in Washington, D.C.
Our goal is to make Congress listen, without screams and angry signs, but with the words of the mothers of this nation who are worried about keeping their families healthy. We're doing this, not just for our children, but for every child and every mother in America. No mother should ever worry about whether she can afford to keep her children healthy. No mother should ever have to choose between bankruptcy and adequate health care.
<a href="http://momocrats.typepad.com/momocrats/"><img src="http://momocrats.typepad.com/hear.jpg/"> </a>
As an added bonus, I'm one of the lucky 1% or so of gestational diabetics who become full fledged diabetics during pregnancy. It's the gift that keeps on giving. While it's great for guilt tripping the kids when they get a little older, it's a little terrifying to think of what could happen. I'm now self-employed. If my husband loses his job or his health insurance, no insurance company will touch me with a 10 foot pole. I am completely uninsurable under an individual policy.
So, yes, I have to say again that I am incredibly lucky. But I don't think that "luck" is the basis for good public policy. Our families deserve more.