Friday, February 06, 2015

Working Mom Tips: Succeeding at Home (Don't let the Baby Break the Bank)

My son's new infant photo

Everyone knows that babies are little bundles of joy that result in HUGE expenses. Indeed, they are cute, but costly. And the expense associated with raising them changes the family dynamics.
There is one way to reduce how expensive they are and I am not talking about clipping coupons. Rather, make sure that you understand how to get your baby assigned to your insurance within the requisite time period after delivery.

It may seem like you should should have to opt out of health insurance coverage for your infant. Since your insurance company has been paying for your prenatal care and receives bills after you have the baby it seems natural that it would automatically cover the baby. Most insurance companies send you home with a breast pump for God's sake. How is it even fathomable that they are unaware that you had a baby?!

While it may seem illogical, contrary to popular belief, babies are not automatically assigned to their mother’s insurance. 


New baby and mom hands

I did not learn that until I had my second baby. My first baby was born in the fall right before open enrollment at my company. So, it seemed as if her enrollment was seemless. But it wasn't. Had I failed to include her during the open enrollment period she would have been without insurance. It's just fortuitous that I included her. After all, I was a new mom on maternity leave and not really paying attention to my company emails. But for the grace of God, I would have missed the deadline.

And I almost missed it for my second baby.

My son is ten months old. I haven't written much about my birth experience because he was not discharged with me. He had to spend time in the NICU due to an eye infection. 

Baby with first signs of eye infection

And I have just recently gotten my head around everything that transpired. The irony is the reason I became aware of the requirement to enroll my baby on my insurance within 30 days of delivery is because of his NICU stay. The NICU has a sign when you walk in reminding new parents of their obligation to enroll their infants in their insurance plans within 30 days. I do not recall seeing signs on the mother/baby unit or hearing about it in our mandatory pre-discharge class. 

It's kind of strange that the "enroll now or pay later" sign greets you as you enter the NICU.  If your baby is in the NICU he/she is sick and cannot go home with you. I can attest that being the mom walking into the NICU you feel vulnerable. You are scared. And the only reason you are making that walk at all, instead of crawling, is because you feel like your baby needs you. And despite your vulnerability, your love for your baby is stronger than your fear.

Me with the baby before his NICU stay

The insurance companies care not about your fear. They could care less about your sleepless nights. Your distracted thinking and concern for your baby who is hooked up to monitors are irelevant details to them. They do however care about deadlines. And if you miss the deadline to sign your baby up for insurance you do so at your own risk. 

If you miss the deadline you will be on the hook to pay for your baby's bills out of your own pocket. Don't let that happen to you. You love your baby more than anything, but what you pay for health care can be managed and minimized. As soon as you learn that you're pregnant, contact your insurance company and ask them what you need to do to ensure that your baby is covered.

My son, healthy and sound


To learn more about the rules for insuring babies in insurance plans generally click here. 
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