I spent a large part of my day researching health insurance options for the baby, including federal assistance options like Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). I now know what the federal poverty level is for a family of three ($18,310 before taxes, holy shit that’s low), and am guessing we will be above it in 2009 (holy shit, we’d better be). I never imagined I would be the kind of person who would apply for federal health insurance, but this just goes to show that you can’t make predictions about your life, and you can’t make assumptions about yourself or anyone else. I can just see myself now, going to apply for CHIP, carrying my Balenciaga handbag. That sounds crazy but is entirely plausible. Who’s to judge?
While our situation isn’t dire, it’s not great either. I make some money doing contract work for Design Commission, but I’m going to be taking time off after the birth, and while Brian’s freelance income is starting to pick up, it is completely unpredictable. It’s possible that in given month we may have way more income than the limit for qualifying for federal assistance, and then go several months without bringing in anything at all. I spent a long time on the phone with a CHIP representative today trying to explain this, and in the end she pretty much gave up on me and told me to take all of our income statements from this year to the local community-based organization that helps people with federal assistance. The real kicker here is that we can’t do this until the baby is born and has a social security number. So then I spent some time on the phone with the Social Security Administration finding out the fastest way to get a social security number for a newborn (answer: take the baby’s birth certificate to your local SSA office and apply in person). It still takes about 10 days to get the newborn’s social security card, though. Hopefully the CHIP application process is quick, because we only have 21 days once the baby’s born to get him insured (there’s some law that mandates newborn coverage by the mother’s insurance for the first 21 days, thank god). If CHIP doesn’t work out, we’ll pay for private insurance, which is not cheap but of course completely worth it since going without insurance is just straight up crazy. I wonder if we could fall into that space between qualifying for federal assistance and actually being able to comfortably afford private insurance…we could become part of the demographic you always hear about in the news! Anyway, I guess this is progress, since I now know what we need to do to get our little one insured, but it’s kind of frustrating that we have to wait until he is born to actually DO anything, especially since the time limits are so damn tight. Now it’s on to life and disability insurance for ourselves, which is something I actually can (and should) do something about pre-baby.