Resolving Timeline Issues

Geekery and Pregnancy

Posted on: May 7, 2009

Since I’ve been on maternity leave, I’ve fallen into a habit in the mornings. Darren wakes me up when he needs a ride to the train, I drive him there, come back and flake out on the sofa for awhile. From 10-11am the Space channel shows one of my favourite shows of all time: the original Star Trek series.

Yes, I know how much of a geek that makes me. And I really, really want to see the new movie that opens tomorrow, but I refuse to go to a movie on opening weekend. This means I should see it sometime around Christmas.

Today’s episode is called “Friday’s Child” and involves a very pregnant, alien (although human-appearing) woman, whose culture allows no man other than her nearest male relative to touch her. Of course the good Doctor McCoy ends up delivering the baby, yadda, yadda (click the last link for a full, painfully detailed synopsis). My point is: she gets medical care.

Over the last 6.whatever months I’ve seen the doctor more times than I ever have in my life. Because my pregnancy has been astoundingly normal, I’m on the usual schedule of once a month for the first two trimesters or so, then once every two weeks from 28 to 35 weeks and once a week from 36 weeks onwards. I expect if I go longer than 40 weeks, it’ll be once every couple of days until showtime.

Add in there a trip to the clinic when I spiked a fever, and a diagnostic ultrasound at 20 weeks and I imagine this is a fairly costly process.

Yes, I said I imagine. Because really, I have no idea how much each visit costs. I know the ultrasound, had it been performed in California, would have been in the $2000 (US) range. All of those visits have cost me not one red cent. And I could have gotten genetic testing as well.

What I paid for out of pocket: 3 months of prenatal vitamins (because my extended medical didn’t cover it) at about $35/month (or slightly more than $1/day – because I’m in a high enough income bracket that I don’t get government assistance and my extended medical doesn’t cover vitamins) and a 3D ultrasound at $185 after taxes (because it was for “entertainment purposes” and therefore not covered by either basic or extended insurance).

When I give birth, its at a hospital with the latest medical equipment. If I go into a ward, there’s no cost for the room – its billed back to the province. If I want a private room its $180/night (including meals of course!) – which I can claim back from the two sets of extended medical insurance we have.

I shouldn’t say that this hasn’t cost me one red cent. It has because I pay it through my taxes. Because I’m in a high enough income bracket, I also pay a premium to the province for my medical care – its around $60/month; when we become a family of 3, it goes up to about $130/month. This is for basic care. My employer pays 75% of that – even though I’m not working for the next year.

Yes, I have a really good contract.

My employer also pays for my extended medical premiums; Darren’s employer pays for his and between the two we have nearly 100% coverage on everything. I think my extended medical premiums for the two of us are somewhere around $15-$20/month. Those premiums are low because provincial medical care offsets the true costs of medical care.

My point: we don’t have to pick and choose what kind of medical care we want. We don’t have to worry about being bankrupted by medical costs by doing something that is absolutely natural for human beings: having a baby. Every time I go into the hospital or doctor’s office, there’s no copay.

This is because it is my right, embodied in Canadian law, to receive medical care. Put another way, I cannot be denied medical care because of an inability to pay.

Why does this matter? Well, because there are women just south of the 49th who are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions – or what their insurance companies have deemed to be pre-existing conditions. Like pregnancy.

And all over the world:

Every minute a woman dies in pregnancy and childbirth. Each year more than 536,000 women die due to complications developed during pregnancy and childbirth1 and 10 million more suffer debilitating illnesses and lifelong disabilities. Seventy-five percent of maternal deaths occur during childbirth and the postpartum period. The vast majority of maternal deaths are avoidable when women have access to vital health care before, during and after childbirth.

The old saying: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is worth listening to. With proper prenatal and postnatal care, you not only get healthy mothers and babies, but healthy communities.

The MOMocrats are asking for assistance:

MOMocrats support Mother's Day Every Day

High quality and accessible medical care for expectant mothers, mothers and their children make for less economic and social strife. Its pretty simple; Maslow said as much in his Hierarchy of Needs.

Except my story doesn’t stop there. The next post* will be about what extra benefit I’m able to provide because of the low cost of my extremely generous health care and my good luck in being Canadian.

*No promises as to when it’ll actually be up.

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6 Responses to "Geekery and Pregnancy"

BC labour law actually requires your employer to continue covering their portion of your benefits while you’re on maternity leave. Not every province does. It runs into this weird intersection between national EI regulations and provincial maternity laws, which vary across the country.

I also feel very lucky to know that I will not be bankrupted by medical costs. Especially now that I know I will be laid off and my work coverage will eventually end. There won’t be any issues with losing my medical coverage and not being able to afford a new plan or to take my kids to the doctor.

Interesting blog, it’s very different here in the US. Without a health plan having a baby is a very expensive proposition.
http://www.newmommyteesandjeans.com

Thanks so much for participating in the Mother’s Day Every Day blog event!

You are making me wish I lived in Canada . . . I was terrified when I got pregnant with my son because my husband had just lost his job, and my job did not offer insurance, so we had none. We only just managed to finagle our way into an insurance solution to avoid bankrupting ourselves with the pregnancy.

I am suffering health care envy.

We pay more than $130 per person, and that’s just our half, and we have to pay $5000 out of pocket before insurance even kicks in!!

Thank you so much for sharing this story and for supporting us and the White Ribbon Alliance for safe care for women before, during and after birth.

Your next post—whenever it may be—sounds great!

I know…even with an unemployed freelancing husband..NOT worrying about the costs is amazing.

So paying for a private room isn’t a big deal then.

Even considering cloth diapers isn’t that big of a deal…

You are so right. Those of us who can afford and are not denied health care (as inadequate and impersonal as it often is) are very lucky. Thank you for sharing your story with such clear compassion for our sisters in the developing world. Although belated, I’m no less sincere in my appreciation for your willingness to participate in the MOMocrats Mothers Day Every Day blog blast. Thanks to you, and an amazing group of people from all walks of life, this year Mother’s Day became a focal point for a media momentum that served, not just to honor women as mothers, but to involve more people with the Mothers Day Every Day campaign.

I’d like to stay in touch. You undoubtedly have ideas for ways we can do a better job, if not to get our message to the public, possibly to engage more bloggers who are oriented to support women’s causes. If you email me your email address, I can easily keep you in the loop of what’s up with the Mothers Day Every Day campaign. Also, please email me with any questions or suggestions to make our movement stronger. I promise I won’t use your email address for any other purpose.

Thanks again for helping us during this recent Mother’s Day push. I am hopeful we can continue to work together.

Deb Clark
Communications Director
White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood

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