Posts Tagged ‘health insurance’

Thinking about maternity leave

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

pregnant woman with ipadHave you heard that Netflix is offering unlimited paid parental leave to their employees? During their first year as new parents, Netflix employees can take as much time off as they choose while still earning their normal salary. This is really an amazing policy. If you’re working and pregnant, you probably have thought a lot about maternity leave. Over the past 30 years, the participation rate in the labor force of women with children under age 3 has risen from 34.3% in 1975 to 60.9% in 2011. Half of all mothers work during pregnancy and return to work after their baby is born. And among women who worked during their pregnancy between 2005 and 2007, 58.6% returned to work 3 months after giving birth and 72.9% returned to work 6 months after giving birth. It is important to know what options are available to you so that you can plan ahead.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) employees can take time off from work without pay for pregnancy- and family-related health issues. The act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that you can keep your health insurance benefits during the leave. To qualify, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months, and worked at a location where the company has 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

In addition to the FMLA leave, your employer may have its own maternity leave policies. Talk to your boss or someone from human resources (also called HR). Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • Does your employer offer paid maternity leave? Some employers offer paid time off for the birth of your baby. Talk with someone from HR to find out if you have paid maternity leave.
  • Does your health insurance continue while you’re on maternity leave? If you get your health insurance through your employer, your HR person can tell you about what your insurance plan covers. You may need to change your health plan after your baby’s born to make sure he’s covered, too.
  • Does your employer offer flex time or telecommuting for when you’re ready to go back to work? For example, can you work fewer hours each week or work from home at the beginning? And then increase your hours or your time in the office little by little over a few weeks?
  • Are there other programs or services that your employer offers to new moms? If you’re breastfeeding, find out if your employer has a lactation room. This is a private space (not a bathroom) that you can use to pump breast milk. Employers with more than 50 employees must provide this space for breastfeeding moms.

Finally, choosing a child care provider that works best for you can be tough. Try to explore your options and finalize your plans before your baby arrives.  If you can organize childcare before you deliver, it will make your time at home with your baby more relaxing and enjoyable.

Your Mother’s Day gift to you

Monday, May 12th, 2014

beautiful-skin2Did you know that, even though open enrollment season for health insurance has closed, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is open all-year round?

Good news for pregnant moms

This is good news for expectant moms who cannot afford coverage, since it means that they can still get the prenatal care needed for a healthy pregnancy. While the details of the benefits vary by state, coverage includes, at minimum, all health care related to pregnancy, labor, and delivery and any complications that may occur during pregnancy. Eligibility levels also vary slightly by state. Generally, a total family income of $44,122 for a family of four will qualify pregnant moms for low-cost or free health coverage through Medicaid or CHIP. (But check with your state for details.)

Good news for children

This is also good news for children or teens up to age 19. Through Medicaid or CHIP, children can get regular check-ups, immunizations, doctor and dentist visits, hospital care, mental health services, prescription drugs, and more.  Qualifications are based on total family income. Check with your state to see if your children qualify.

Good news for women who are not pregnant

But this news is especially welcome for uninsured women who are not pregnant. As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states now have the choice to expand their Medicaid coverage to low-income adults, an option known as “Medicaid expansion.” States who have taken up the Medicaid expansion option will now provide comprehensive, affordable coverage to eligible adults. In these states, low-income women of childbearing age are now able to obtain coverage before and between pregnancies, offering them access to services to improve their overall and reproductive health. These essential services include screening for high blood pressure and chronic conditions, tobacco cessation, weight loss programs to reduce the risk of diabetes, substance abuse counseling and other preventive and therapeutic care.

So, this Mother’s Day, to learn more about Medicaid and CHIP and how to enroll, visit HealthCare.gov or your state’s Medicaid agency. Or call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669). For the sake of a healthy pregnancy, your kids’ health, and the health of your future children, give yourself the gift of health insurance.  Even though there is no deadline, why wait?

This post is courtesy of Michelle Sternthal, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Federal Affairs, Office of Government Affairs at the March of Dimes.

Health insurance registration deadline running out

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Open enrollment for health care coverage in 2014 through the Health Insurance Marketplace ends this Monday, March 31st. Affordable plans are still available. Across the country, 6 out of 10 uninsured Americans can get covered for $100 per month or even less – some for a lot less.

If you haven’t registered for a plan yet, start by gathering important information – like birthdates and Social Security or document numbers – for everyone who will be on the application.

You can sign up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at HealthCare.gov (which is working smoothly now). You can also sign up in Spanish at CuidadoDeSalud.gov. Confused? Need help? You can call 1-800-318-2596, any time, any hour, and a trained representative will help you enroll.

Moms and babies need health coverage, so be sure to choose a plan now. If you choose a plan by March 31, you’ll avoid tax penalties for 2014.

Finding a doctor for baby

Friday, September 25th, 2009

20344732_thbTowards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I emailed our siblings and close friends for recommendations to pediatricians.  We asked them all a ton of questions, but still needed to call a couple of doctor’s offices for additional information. Things that were important to us included:

First and foremost, did this doctor accept our insurance?
Was the doctor a board certified pediatrician?
What hospital was the doctor affiliated with?
Was the doctor nice and well-liked?
Was he/she supportive of breastfeeding?
Was it easy to get an appointment at his/her office?
Were the staff and the office itself pleasant?
Did they have well-baby office hours?
Was the office close to our house?
How were calls and emergencies handled after hours?

With the exception of the occasional lengthy wait in the waiting room, we’re having a good experience with the doctor that we picked for our daughter. He is very friendly and throughout the visit asks, “so, what questions do you have?” I never feel rushed. I trust him. I actually enjoy taking her for her check-ups. This was not apart of the criteria for a selecting a pediatrician, but he happens to wear funny ties and the baby loves to stare and grab at them. So we think she likes him, too : )

How did you find your baby’s doctor?

Happy Friday! See you next week.

The day Hannah arrived, the conclusion

Friday, September 4th, 2009

75460078915_0_albAlthough it would have made a great story, I didn’t deliver in the ambulance.  Sorry to disappoint.

Now where was I?

We arrived at some random hospital. We didn’t tour this facility. My midwife did not have privileges here. This was not the plan. I was quickly pulled out of the ambulance and rushed inside. I caught eyes with an elderly woman in the corridor who stepped to the side as we wheeled past. She looked horrified. Was I that bad?

The ER staff stood in a line waiting for me. One of them called out, “how many weeks is she?” I was just shy of thirty seven. I was crying up a storm. Someone chuckled, “oh, take her to L&D then!” Hold on…I’m not having my baby today. I might be sick. A kidney stone perhaps? I have back pain. I threw up. I didn’t shave my legs today. WAIT!

Before I knew it I was off the gurney and standing in what looked like a delivery room. Two nurses were pulling my coat off while asking me for my social security number and health insurance card. I could barely answer them and they were getting frustrated. A short, portly woman with rosy cheeks stepped in. In a soft voice she said, “you have to let us help you. Please answer our questions.” She guided me to the bed and yanked off my winter boots and jeans. She asked me if I was having any bleeding. I asked, “who are you?” She replied, “your doctor.”

Crutches and all, my husband finally found me. He was swarmed with questions and paperwork from the nurses. There must have been at least four people touching me all at once. I was in a hospital gown, there were two monitors strapped over my belly, a blood pressure cuff on my arm, an IV in my hand and the doctor was checking me. “Well, you’re 10 centimeters. You can start pushing whenever you have a contraction.” I almost didn’t believe her.  I felt like the room was spinning. It was loud and bright. I’m not due for another few weeks. Our families don’t know what’s happening. There was no time to call our doula. No over-night bag. No camera. I wasn’t prepared for this.

With my husband quietly at my side, I started to push every time I had the urge. I wasn’t having contractions in the traditional sense. Just intense pressure in my bottom. “Stop pushing with your face,” a nurse instructed. In between pushes I would reach into my husband’s sweat shirt pocket for some ice chips that I was storing in a plastic cup. My mouth was so dry.

I wasn’t sure if my pushes were working. I was distracted for a split second by my bright purple knee socks. Not a good look. Stay focused. “Is anything happening?” The doctor told me to reach down and feel for myself. I touched the top of my baby’s head. I gasped. It was the most perfect moment. It suddenly became real and I snapped out of the fog I was in. I have to get the baby out now.

At 4:42pm I became a mom. The doctor placed this tiny person on my chest. I looked up at my husband who had tears in his eyes and we kissed. We have a daughter. What a surprise! The room was quiet now. I was comfortable. Someone turned the lights down. We’re a family now. Despite the pain, fear and uncertainty it was a perfect day and I wouldn’t change a thing.

It definitely doesn’t end here. My Hannah turns 7 months old tomorrow and I have a ton of stories to share. Thanks for stopping by and see you next Friday. Enjoy the long weekend!

Speak Now for Kids: Medical care for children

Monday, May 11th, 2009

child-playing-doctorMedical care. Health insurance. We all worry about them.

Will we have the medical care and the insurance we need when someone in the family gets sick?

What about routine checkups? Can I afford the copay?

My kids deserve reliable, quality medical care. What can  I do to be sure they get it?

The March of Dimes is a national partner in the campaign “Speak Now for Kids in Health Reform.” More than 120 other organizations have also signed on.

As Congress debates health care reform, Speak Now for Kids will be there. We want to be sure kids get the the medical care they need. 

You can help. Go to the Speak Now for Kids Web site. Tell us about your experiences with children’s health insurance and medical care.

Add your voice to this important national discussion.

Insure Kids Now!

Friday, May 8th, 2009

kids-looking-at-turtleA new bill signed into law by President Obama makes millions of children eligible to receive health insurance.

If your kids do not have health insurance, they are likely to be eligible, even if you are working and even if you have applied in the past and were turned down.

Your state (and every state) has its own program, with its own eligibility rules.  In many states, uninsured children 18 years old and younger whose families earn up to $44,500 a year (for a family of four) are eligible for free or low-cost health insurance that pays for doctor visits, dental care, prescription meds, hospitalizations and more.

Go to your state’s program or make a free call to 1-877-KIDS-NOW.

Women and kids get big health care boost

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Thanks to you, millions of pregnant women and nearly 11 million children will now have much-needed health care coverage. Yesterday, President Obama signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) into law. With this legislation, pregnant women who qualify can get critical maternity care, and millions of children can see a doctor and benefit from improved quality of care.

At a time when economic woes and job losses have put health coverage at risk, this law is more necessary than ever. Thanks to all of you who contacted your public officals in support of this legislation!

Another word on cord blood

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

In case you missed it, check out Pam’s post from last week on cord blood.  I find the whole thing fascinating. I’m not talking about the potential benefits of stem cell research either. I’m talking about the business behind it. Now that I’m expecting I’m targeted with advertisements on a regular basis to save my baby’s cord blood for personal use. Whether I’m flipping through a pregnancy magazine, shopping at a maternity store or watching TV, I can’t seem to escape the image of that little baby looking down at her belly button.

I’ve done a lot of reading (not including the pamphlets dropped in my shopping bag) and talked to my provider about it. Based on our family medical history, my husband and I decided against storing our babies cord blood in a private bank. We are very much in favor and interested in donating the cord blood however.

There is no cost to parents who donate their baby’s cord blood to a public bank. However, this option is not available everywhere. The National Marrow Donor Program provides a complete listing of participating hospitals; the program’s phone number is (800) 627-7692. Parents who choose to donate their baby’s cord blood must complete a lengthy parental health and disease questionnaire. The mother also must have blood tests for diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. In some cases, parents may have to pay for these tests if their insurance does not cover them.

Health insurance for those in need

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Poverty is everywhere.  It is not just abroad but here in our country too.  There are children that do not have enough to eat and women who give what there is to their kids but do not eat themselves.  There are pregnant women that do not go for their prenatal visits because they do not have health insurance and cannot afford to pay out of pocket.  Decisions are being made everyday on what bills can be put off; what necessity is really a luxury item; how to afford gas for the car; how to make a birthday special without costing a lot of money.  Making ends meet is getting more and more difficult.

 

People are worrying about the economy and its impact on the future.   Times are tough.  But they are tougher and scarier for some people more than others.  Pregnant women and children are among those.

 

1 in 5 young women and 1 in 9 children do not have health insurance.  That means no doctor visits unless it is dire; no medicine for the little one screaming with an earache; maybe trying folk remedies or herbal medicines which may not be safe; taking over-the-counter medicine that may not be right and hoping for the best, waiting until it’s too late to get to the hospital. 

 

Yes, there are some programs for children like the Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) and Medicaid, but getting insurance coverage for a pregnant woman is hard.  Many families are above the financial threshold yet cannot afford the monthly insurance premium.   Some states offer programs such as New York’s Prenatal Care Assistance Program or San Diego County’s Perinatal Care Network.  If you or someone you love is struggling with getting health insurance, check with your local health department, WIC clinic or Medicaid Office.  There are also discount programs available such as Ameriplan or Maternity Advantage.

 

Having to choose between buying food, paying rent, going for a prenatal visit, or taking the baby to the doctor for her 6th month checkup is heart-wrenching.  The stress has to be overwhelming.  And that in itself is bad for pregnant women.