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Can I Afford Maternity Leave?

My maternity leave is quickly approaching now. With 3 weeks left until my scheduled C-section, I should probably figure out how much cash I’ll need to make it through a 12 week maternity leave.

Our largest cash outflow is the mortgage, which is around $820 a month. It covers the mortgage, taxes, and homeowners insurance. It is automatically deducted out of my second credit union account, so I will have to periodically transfer cash from my main credit union account to the other once my direct deposit paychecks are halted to those accounts during my maternity leave.

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The next largest cash outflow is my hubby’s student loan, around $300. It is automatically deducted from my hubby’s credit union account. While we have one more forbearance available to us, we don’t plan on using it.

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Our third largest cash outflow is the loan to get the roof repaired. We just got the loan last month, and the $200 payments are automatically deducted out of my main credit union account. Since I am actually paying more than the minimum payment of $150 a month, I can actually lower my payments by $50, but I’ll only do that if there is a shortfall in cash.

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The fourth largest cash outflow is the car lease for $185 a month. The payments are automatically deducted from my hubby’s account.

The second smallest cash outflow is our auto insurance. About $90 is automatically deducted out of my main credit union account. We are currently shopping around for auto and homeowners insurance to see if we can get a lower amount.

And the smallest cash outflow is the internet for $44, which is also automatically deducted out of my hubby’s credit union account. If you can’t already tell, I love automatic payments.

These six payments are ones that I either cannot easily change, such as the loans, lease, or auto insurance, or live without, such as the internet. These items total $1639.00 per month.

There are several additional expenses that, with some changes, I can either decrease or cut all together. The highest of these adjustable expenses is my hubby’s health insurance, a whopping $400 a month, which he picked up this year through the health care exchange. If needed, we could just cut the expense entirely.

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The second largest adjustable expense is our food and household items, which I estimate to be around $350 a month. It includes anything we use on a daily basis, from food and drinks to hygiene to clothes.

The third largest dispensable expense is my daughter’s before and after school care, which is $345 a month. While I could pull her out of the program while I’m on maternity leave, which would cut the expense for three months, she would be placed at the bottom of the waiting list for the program once I return to work, which poses a problem.

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The fourth largest adjustable expense is our electric and gas bill which is $165 a month. We are on budget billing, where the utility company estimates our annual cost and spreads the cost over an 11 month period. That way, 11 of the 12 bills are always the same at $165 per month, and the last bill is either higher because we underpaid or lower because we overpaid.

Gas is our next largest adjustable expense, which is usually around $80 a month. My commute to work is about 20 miles round trip, while my hubby’s commute is a nonexistent 6 miles round trip. I’m sure that the gas expense will decrease a little bit while I’m on maternity leave.

The second smallest adjustable expense is our cell phones, at $65 a month. We both have prepaid, with 250 minutes and unlimited texting each and data on my line. If need be, I could lower the expense to $50 a month and not have data on my line, but I love the convenience of having data.

The smallest adjustable expense is my daughter’s health insurance, at $60 a month. We could cut it entirely, but it has covered almost everything we’ve needed for her, so the benefits of Child Health Plus has greatly outweighed the monthly cost.

The total of these seven adjustable expenses comes to $1465.00. Adding it to the $1639.00 brings our total monthly cash outflow to $3104.00. If I take the full 12 weeks leave, the estimated cash outflow during my maternity leave is $9312.00. To balance the cash outflow, my hubby will take four weeks of the new Paid Family Leave at birth while I take eight weeks of Paid Family Leave. During the last four weeks, either my hubby will work and I will stay home unpaid, or I’ll return to work and my hubby will take his remaining four weeks of Paid Family Leave.

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I Was Pregnant Without Insurance

At the beginning of 2015, my hubby and I decided to take the risk of going without insurance for the entire year. Since we were both young (enough), healthy (relatively), and our daughter was covered by Child Health Plus, we said screw you to Obamacare. Of course, we had to mess that plan up by getting pregnant. In early fall, we were pregnant and uninsured, which is actually a fairly common scenario. So common, in fact, that a quick search on Google yielded 56.6 million results.

The most common program for uninsured, pregnant women was Medicaid. When I first got Child Health Plus for our daughter, I was told that my income was too high for any Medicaid assistance, which was no surprise to me. But it was just low enough to qualify for Child Health Plus. When I was researching affordable health care as a pregnant, uninsured woman, I found out that the Medicaid income limits were higher for pregnant women.

NYmedicaidincomelevelpregnant

But of course, I was still above the income limits. (Apparently, the lesson here is if you want health insurance in America, you have to be poor.)

After reading online forums about mommies and babies, I called my Ob-Gyn’s office and asked for their advice. Their billing department suggested I contact the hospital I had my daughter at, because they had a specific clinic that catered to the uninsured, which had an Ob-Gyn office. At first I was a little hesitant, but when they said that my specific Ob-Gyn doctor, whom I loved, worked there a few mornings a week, I was sold.

When I spoke to the financial department at my hospital, it turns out they have a financial assistance program for the uninsured.

Lourdesfinancialassistance

After sending in some paperwork and a few paystubs, I was able to get 50% of any medical bill that went through their financial system, which included the Ob-Gyn clinic. The 50% off would even apply after I got insurance through the healthcare exchange in January 2016, which was four months away.

Being the numbers driven person that I am, I asked what the typical prenatal appointments and procedures cost, and started crunching numbers. Drawing back on the prenatal appointments when I was pregnant with my daughter, the first prenatal visit includes an ultrasound ($400), papsmear ($591), and initial bloodwork ($850). Of course, there was also the doctor ($470), and the specialist to analyze the ultrasound and tell the doctor what it showed ($170). The ultrasound specialist is a separate charge from the hospital system, thus not included under the “charity discount”, the nice name the hospital financial department gave my 50% discount on the bill. So, the total for the first prenatal visit should come to $1325.50 (50% of $400+$591+$850+$470, plus the $170 for the radiologist, without any discount), assuming a low risk pregnancy and no complications.

The next two prenatal visits, about 12 weeks and 16 weeks, are $116 each, plus the doctor to listen for the heart beat and ask how I’m feeling, $470 each, making each one $586.00. Taking off the 50% makes each one $293.00.

That brings us to the 20 week mark, halfway through the pregnancy, when it’s time to check for the gender and more blood tests. Since that would have been January 2016, when I would have been able to pick up insurance through the healthcare exchange, I didn’t bother calculating the costs. But the financial department did tell me that a C-section without any complications is around $11,500, which includes the hospital stay and doctor, but not the anesthesia.

The estimated cost for the first three prenatal visits totals $1911.50 ($1325.50 + $293.00 + $293.00).

Estimated cost of prenatal visits

Compare that to the estimated cost of carrying health insurance for the entire year. When I checked the health care exchange at the end of 2014, the lowest premium was around $350 a month, making the annual cost $4200.00.Estimated cost of health insurance

Based on those numbers, it was definitely worth the risk of not getting insurance. As long as you don’t have any complications, or end up in the emergency room like I did. I ended up miscarrying, which is not a story for the faint of heart. I had an ambulance ride to the ER, and an overnight stay at the hospital so that I could get a blood transfusion. Good thing I had the 50% charity discount.

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