Let's Talk About Health Insurance

Let me start with this: I don't want to spark a political debate with this right now. And I don't think we will (you guys seem pretty cool), but still. Whether or not you agree with the Affordable Care Act in its entirety — whether you think it goes too far or not far enough — let's just talk about the facts.

And the fact is that there are some really important changes for women — for young women, especially — and for moms.

All I know is that I could have used some of this back when I first get pregnant — no health insurance (my parents couldn't cover me after I graduated college, and I got pregnant on the day of my college graduation), no job (my "preexisting condition" was a stressful concern for when I did get a job and insurance), while in the process of switching to a less costly birth control because, hello, my health insurance just expired.

Luckily things worked out for me — I found a job with top-of-the-line insurance, which gave me 7 weeks of maternity leave, and then let me pump three times a day when I came back. But not every young mom is as lucky, and these new laws will give women free birth control (even pricey IUDs, which is awesome), free breast pump rentals, breastfeeding support, and required breaks and access for pumping at work.

This is for us, ladies. They're fixing things for us.

Of course things aren't perfect. Quitting my insurance-provided job for a more flexible self-starting career has been an incredible decision for a number of reasons (my happiness, my parenting, my paycheck), but health insurance is not one of those reasons. I'm writing this with a painful kidney infection — after weeks of Internet searches, nurse phone calls, and debating. Debating money vs. possible infection that could be serious or could be nothing. I tried self-medicating, tried flushing it out of my system, and ultimately made the call to head to the doctor's and pay the cash once I knew the infection spread.

But that's what we do without insurance, right? We wait until we absolutely have to see a doctor, rather than risk the "it's nothing serious" diagnosis. The "you just wasted a few hundred bucks on unnecessary testing" outcome. But we also risk the "why in the world did you wait so long, now this is a really costly medical issue" result.

As a young parent, I don't have as much disposable income to dump into private health insurance (because we, personally, don't qualify for any state-funded programs) while we pay for preschool and student loans and rent and all of the other costs of early adulthood.

But as a mom to a little boy who needs me healthy, this isn't OK. This isn't right.

And any changes are good changes, in my opinion.

What about you? Are you doing without health insurance? Has this been a significant issue in your pregnancy? Have you found any affordable solutions?

Photo: UltraViolet