I Am Pregnant and Uninsured in America

I Am Pregnant and Uninsured in America

My health insurance ran out on December 31st. The nice lady with Cigna quoted me in the ballpark of $750 a month to maintain my insurance through COBRA for 3 months, which wouldn't have gotten me to my due date. No insurance company will take me because pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition. Like cancer. Not that it matters, since I can't afford self-pay coverage, anyway. Any plan I can afford has a deductible so high that if I did find myself in a situation in which I needed to use the health insurance, I'd go bankrupt, so, in the end, I don't see the point.

Kurt has insurance through his job as well as USAA insurance because his father was a pilot in the Air Force. But even if we were married, the cost for dependents on his insurance through work is more than we can fork over and, get this, USAA doesn't offer maternity coverage. I guess veterans don't have babies.

So, yesterday I had the immense pleasure of spending a couple hours at the social services office in Pasadena. The Pasadena branch was recommended by friends when I told them about my experience at the Wilshire branch at which a lady who looked like this:

bullfrog

Credit Image: Benimoto on Flickr

told me that I should arrive at 8 am and be prepared to spend the entire day there. The Pasadena office, my friends assured me, would be much quicker and less painful. And it was quick, relatively speaking. Two hours beats a whole day, especially when the bulk of that time will likely be spent waiting on a hard plastic chair in a waiting room filled with screaming babies and generally freaked out people with seemingly no concept of public decorum.

It's not that I expect people to sit quietly with their hands folded in their laps, but listening to music on your phone without headphones (and by "music" I mean something that had some kind of beat and a lot of sounds of gun shots and wolf whistles) or whistling the same two (flat) notes over and over again just seems to me to be, you know, not behavior to engage in in a crowded room filled with stressed-out people ready to snap. Then again, I'm sort of an asshole, so, who knows?

A woman sitting across the aisle from me with an extremely new baby in her arms and a crying infant in a stroller handed the infant AN EMPTY BOTTLE. I don't mean that there was a little milk or formula in the bottle. I mean the thing was bone dry. I don't think the inside of that bottle had EVER seen any kind of liquid. So, the kid sucks down some air for a minute or so until she realizes nothing is going to come out of that thing and she starts wailing again, at which point her mother leans in and says, "WHY ARE YOU STILL CRYING??"

I'm called into the office where I follow a woman through a labyrinth of hallways into a back office. She sits down across her desk from me, mumbles her name and asks me for my I.D.

She asks me if I have pay stubs from my unemployment insurance. I explain that there are no pay stubs with unemployment insurance but hand her my latest Notice of Unemployment Insurance Benefits Determination form. One would think this form would kind of supersede a pay stub as it lists the benefit amount and how much total I will be paid over time in bi-monthly payments. But, no, they really need pay stubs.

"But there are no pay stubs," I repeat.

"Then what about a bank statement?" She asks.

"There's no bank statement, either," I say. "There's no actual bank account. I get an EDD debit card. I withdraw the money from the EDD account and put it in my bank account ... in cash. It's a government program. Kinda like ... you know, what you guys provide."

She gives me an open-mouthed, vacant stare.

"Well, hopefully the determination notice you gave will be enough."

"Yes. Hopefully," I sigh.

She types what must be an opus into her computer.

"You're getting pregnancy-only coverage," she tells me, finally.

"I'd like to get full coverage."

"You don't qualify."

"Pardon?"

"You make too much income."

"I'm on unemployment!"

"The cut-off is $1,262 a month," she says.

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