Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Grass Is Always Greener

A lot has been said about the Affordable Care Act lately. All political opinions aside, I'm terrified of what it means for those of us with diabetes. Of course, it all sounds good in theory; however, in practice, I'm afraid that it will be a huge mess that we will all suffer for.

Bottom line, you NEVER get something for nothing. Someone ALWAYS pays for it.

Now before someone gets angry and tells me how politically incorrect or socially irresponsible I am, let me say this: I believe in helping those who are less fortunate. However, I believe in giving a hand up rather than a hand out. The system in place now does not promote individual responsibility; rather, it perpetuates a cycle of dependence that is incredibly hard to break. Yes, I absolutely believe that the current health care system needs some change and insurance companies have to be held accountable for the cost of their premiums, but I don't think this is the way to achieve it.

My fears are these:
  • According to local news stories, young doctors are now planning to retire early. If the doctors believe this law is going to impact them negatively, I don't have much confidence in their motivation/ability to provide adequate care...and I fear that finding the ones who go above and beyond will be exceedingly more difficult.
  • "Free" preventive care? Just like most everyone I've talked to, I believe that we'll be paying for these benefits in one way or another...there might not be a co-pay at the time of the visit, but I'm almost positive that the cost will be accounted for through higher premiums.
  • Similarly, moving toward outlawing discrimination due to pre-existing conditions is a great idea; however, I do not believe for a second that people with pre-existing conditions will be paying the same rate as someone without them.
  • Even if it turns out that I'm wrong, what price will we have to pay? Even if we're charged the same as everyone else, I find it hard to believe that our needs will be adequately covered. Right now, I pay 20% of my diabetes supplies (after I meet a $3,000 deductible...that's a whole different story); in the future, who knows what kind of coverage we'll be settling for...if we'll be able to jump through the inevitable hoops to get some things covered at all.
So in summation, I'm afraid that this law, which was passed with the intent to lower health care costs for everyone, will actually end up costing us more in the long run in one form or another. I don't know what the ideal solution is, but I have a sinking feeling this won't be it.

During my first American Diabetes Month back in 2010, I wrote about how health care issues affect people with diabetes, and me specifically. I correctly predicted back then that my dream of staying at home once we had children wouldn't be possible due to my need for insurance. This adds an entirely new level of suckiness (yes, I'm making it a word) to an already sucky disease...not only do we have to suffer from the disease itself, but we also have to quite literally pay for having it. Let me break it down for you:
  • Test strips--$1/piece; at the current rate I'm using them, $300/month or $3,600/year without insurance; $60/month or $720/year with it.
  • Insulin pump supplies (reservoirs and infusion sets only)--$652/3 months or $2,608/year without insurance; $492.80/3 months or $1,971.20/year with...Before the maternity costs of last year, I never meet my $3,000 deductible. Because of that, I never get my supplies covered under the 80/20 plan, and have to pay them at the contracted insurance rate instead. But hey, at least I get that 20% insurance discount...
  • CGM Sensors--$420/3 months or $1,680/year without insurance; $327.90/3 months or $1,311.60/year with...although I don't use sensors all the time, partly because I don't feel I need to wear them 24/7 and need a break from the skin wreckage caused by the adhesives from the bandaids I wear to cover them, and partly because not wearing them all the time means I can stretch my supplies out longer.
  • Endocrinologist visits--$473/quarterly or $1,892 without insurance; $50 copay or $200/year with.
That comes out to $9,780 without insurance or $4,202.80 with for strictly diabetes-related medical costs, which of course is not including premiums, glucose tablets, or other miscellaneous expenses that I incur thanks to this disease.

Since I work full-time (as a CAD drawing technician for the family business), my employers (aka, my parents) pay 75% of all the employee's insurance premiums. I'm blessed that everything worked out so that I had insurance coverage upon diagnosis and have been able to keep the same policy since then, but I wish so, so badly that we were able to afford private insurance so I didn't have to work full-time. Unfortunately, though, it just isn't feasible for us to forgo my salary and lose my benefits. I realize I'm incredibly lucky to be able to bring my baby to work with me (and have a flexible schedule), but most people don't realize how hard it can be. I don't think I could ever leave her at day care, but it's definitely not easy trying to juggle being a mom and working at the same time (and that's without all the lovely d-related stuff I'm dealing with 24/7). While I'm at work, I have two (/three with the d) jobs going on virtually all the time, and they inevitably interfere with one another...the phone rings, baby wakes up. I need to be working on a drawing, baby is crying. Oh, and by the way, your blood sugar is! It never ends...

Sometimes, like yesterday when I saw a new mom walking with her baby in a stroller on my way to work, I can't help but mourn what could have been if it weren't for this disease and all its related implications for my life. If I didn't have to work (full-time) just so I can keep affordable insurance coverage, I could...
  • Spend more time just enjoying my baby, rather than being frustrated by trying to give her the attention she needs without abandoning my job.
  • Keep up with her baby books, which are currently in a woefully neglected state. Oh, the things I've missed already...Thank goodness for the iPhone, because without it we'd have no proof of her milestones and day-to-day cuteness!
  • Have a clean(er) house, because then I wouldn't have to wait until I got off work to conquer the mountains of laundry and dishes that are always waiting for me at home...If I were at home all day, I could at least throw some loads of laundry in the washer during naptimes/breaks.
  • Similarly, I'd actually be able to have more time to enjoy on Saturdays, which have unofficially become "Get Everything Done That I Couldn't Get Around To During The Week Because There Aren't Enough Hours In The Day"-days, during which I get the floor sweeping/mopping/vacuuming, general cleaning, and other organizing done. Ditto for any days off...
  • Be around for "playdates" and other social occurrences that are a virtually impossibility for working moms...Especially since every one of my mom friends (and all but one of my in-laws) are stay-at-home moms, it's hard for me to miss out on that stuff all the time! "Let's get together tomorrow afternoon and the kids can play!" Yeah, I don't think I'll be able to get off work for that, unfortunately...oh, and that last-minute baby shower/Pampered Chef party/whatever you invited me to? Sorry, I'd love to come (really, I would!) but if I take the time out to go, I'll be catching up on laundry and assorted housecleaning duties for the next week.
  • All of that crafty/artsy stuff I used to do? I haven't had time for any of it in oh, about six months! Working and taking care of the baby (and house) is all I have time for every day, and even at that, something usually gets left out. I have a quilt for my baby girl that I started long before she was even conceived that is still sitting on my sewing machine, about 75% quilted and needing to be binded, but who knows when I'll ever have time to finish it. Oh, and I can pretty much write off any hope of ever doing anything on Pinterest!
Yes, I know you don't spend all day doing fun activities you saw on Pinterest, but that's the way I like to imagine my future life as a SAHM...

I know that being a stay-at-home mom is hard work too (I got to do it for a couple of months, let me remind you!), but right now I have to manage doing everything a SAHM does while working, because there's nobody else around to take up the slack. As much as I love the hubby, he hasn't come around to helping more like I expected he would since I've been back at work, so I'm stuck doing everything I did while I was at home plus working during the day...which is pretty much impossible.  I'd never choose to work full-time if I had the choice. Part-time I could easily do (and would want to do), but I would LOVE to not have to come in Every. Single. Day...Forever.

I don't know what the solution to this dilemma is, and I know that there are tons of people who are much worse off than I am. In fact, I probably sound like a spoiled brat compared to a lot of people! But when you spend the little free time you have surrounded by people who are living the life you want to have, it's a constant reminder of what could have been. On the flip side, I'm sure that some of them wish they could do what I'm doing rather than staying at home...the grass is always greener, right? I completely realize we all idealize the other side of things, and I know I need to work on being happier where I'm at now instead of longing for what (right now, at least) is unattainable. I just hope that by the time Baby Girl is a little older (before she goes to school!), it will be possible for me to spend some time with her at home...

 ‎**Let me just say, it's not my intent to offend you moms who do get to stay at home by trivializing what you do in any way! I'm simply making the point that because of my health status, I'm forced to work rather than having the choice. And when you don't have a choice in what you do, it makes the "doing" so much more difficult...especially when all of the moms you hang out with are doing what you wish you could do! I feel like I'm missing out on a lot, both with my baby and socially, because I literally don't have time to do anything but work-both at my job and at home...


Sarah said...

I completely understand as I am in the same situation. It is so frustrating to not only have to deal with having diabetes but also having to give up spending time with my baby because of it!

Ashley said... feels like you're being punished for something you have no control over! If it was a choice it would be one thing, but to have the decision made for you is incredibly hard to deal with. Hang in there with me...hopefully some day we'll be able to have the life we want!

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