Q&A: How Did You Handle the Financial Burden?

Posted on Posted in D&C, D&E, Induction/L&D, Practical Information, Q&A

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QUESTION

Q&A: How did you handle the financial burden?
It’s our turn to ask: How did you handle the financial burden of ending your wanted pregnancy after a poor prenatal diagnosis?

How did you handle the financial burdens associated with ending your wanted pregnancy? These might include any medical expenses, travel expenses if you had to travel to obtain your procedure, cremation, funeral and related costs, and counseling services or mental health therapy.

ANSWERS

California—Thankfully, my health insurance covered all of it. I am lucky to live in California.

Michigan—My parents helped us. I was a SAHM at the time and we were getting by on my husband’s teacher’s salary. Because he is a state employee, our health insurance wouldn’t touch abortion for any reason. We didn’ t have the $4,000 for the L&D. My parents stepped in and covered the 50% up front that the hospital had demanded. We were (inexplicably) billed only another few hundred dollars after that; we paid it and didn’t ask questions. We paid for the hotel near the hospital and other associated expenses as well. We were allowed to have our son buried on his grandparent’s plot; I don’t remember the cost of his headstone or little casket.

Florida—We had to borrow about $3,000 from my in-laws to cover the cost of the procedure, travel expenses, hotel stay and burial expenses. Insurance covered zero, and it was at a time when we had nothing saved for an emergency.

New York—I had wonderful insurance at the time, The New York State Employees Plan. It covered almost everything.

Massachussetts—The cost of my third trimester abortion was $25,000 (cash or credit) up-front, plus about $3,000 in airfare and hotel to get to and stay near the clinic. I had between a Friday night at 7:30 and a Tuesday morning at 8:00 to get the money, and I would be in an airplane during the entire workday Monday.

First, I called my parents. They had the money, but my mom had to ask my dad. She wasn’t sure what he’d say because he isn’t as universally pro-choice as she is. We paid the $3,000 travel expenses out of pocket. But we only had a $10,000 limit on our credit card, so even that couldn’t have touched the cost of the procedure I needed. It also would have put us in crippling, inescapable debt. My little brother offered me his $5,000 savings, no questions asked, which was basically every penny he owned.

Both of my parents agreed to help. They paid their credit card down to nothing, and faxed a signed copy to the clinic. They had to call their credit card company and explain that there would be a huge charge on it, and to expect it. Their credit limit was just $25,000. They paid down the balance that month by removing money from their retirement account. You can do this, by the way. You can withdraw from your IRA or whatever for medical expenses without a tax penalty. You’ll have to pay it back to yourself, but that way you won’t be charged interest on your credit card.

I have offered to pay my parents back, but they won’t hear it. I considered suing for malpractice, as my very late term abortion was the product of an earlier mistake. I found a lawyer who was willing to bring the case, but later decided against it. I collected a few thousand dollars back from my insurance company. I am still pursuing more. We also applied for a tax deduction on the medical expenses. Yes, you can claim your abortion as tax-deductible expense, like any medical procedure–and rightly so! That has helped a little.

Maryland—My health insurance covered it all. I wonder why some do and some don’t. I guess all plans are different, it may depend on timing, etc. At the time, there was some talk that I might have to go out of state and that could/would likely have been out-of-network. As it turned out, a provider close to home agreed to help me so luckily (that’s an understatement) I didn’t have to travel or pay. I so wish that was how it was for all of us during this incredibly difficult time.

Massachusetts—There are laws around abortion, unfortunately. If you’re a federal government employee, you’re not covered for abortion thanks to the Hyde Amendment, which sucks! There are also some states that make this a “moral” exemption. It’s ridiculous. Fiscally, it is cheaper to provide abortion services and coverage than it is to cover the costs resulting from not providing them. Insurance companies know this. My insurance claimed to cover abortion at any stage of pregnancy, however they got off on a technicality by having a cap on the amount they would spend on an “out of network” provider. Well, there are exactly zero in-network providers for this procedure, so they effectively don’t cover it.

Location Not Known—My insurance paid for everything, and even had nurses calling me to check on me. When I stopped taking their calls they sent a card. Cremation cost were paid for us a a donation from a pregnancy loss group. My termination was in 2009; laws may have changed since then.

District of Columbia—This was the one easy thing about our experience—our insurance covered everything related to the D&E (and would have covered L&D as well). However, we are now reckoning with counseling costs, and the cost to cremate. We called around and our cost to cremate wasn’t enough to warrant asking family/friends. I’d also be afraid that if no one helped, my feelings would be hurt and it would affect our relationships.

Our therapy sessions were $100 each, and we had to stop those because it just added up too fast. I’m a complicated case, because everything we’re doing has to be via IVF. We have a lot of huge bills coming up pertaining to that, as well as accompanying acupuncture (none of this is covered) that is supposed to help with the IVF cycle(s). I’m getting a lot out of connecting with this private support group and other online TFMR boards, and my wife is doing considerably better than I am, so we had to drop the therapy.

Texas—Our insurance covered everything.

Kansas—I paid for all travel, my ex-mother-in-law paid the medical fees, and my grandfather’s extremely close friend who owned a mortuary did all the cremation services. I’m not sure who bought the urn: either my grandfather or his friend. My ex-mother-in-law tried to bitch me out for the money, but we reminded her we had handed her $6,000 to buy a house and then taken her in after her husband had committed suicide there and she couldn’t stand to go back home. It was extremely stressful coming up with the cash for everything.

North Carolina—We were very lucky that my insurance paid for the termination. I can’t even begin to imagine having to fork over $25,000 or more. That is an insane amount and I am so sorry that happens to anyone. I was also lucky to have a good hospital (Duke University) close by. A nurse did ask our reasons for ending the pregnancy, and said she wouldn’t attend if she didn’t agree. She didn’t do this in nasty way, though, and she did stay to help me. At the time I didn’t realize how very lucky I was with my termination experience.

Florida—My insurance policy said it would cover in-network procedures, but the only local option for a second-trimester abortion was out-of-network. We paid the $750 out of pocket because I just wanted it to be over. I am lucky we could afford to do that.

California—I had medical insurance coverage for the pregnancy at the time but no other insurance. It was all covered, no questions asked. I also received counseling for an entire year, covered. I thought I would lose the insurance once they found out the baby died. I didn’t ask questions and I received no bills. Where I took a financial hit was with my school costs. I was in graduate school at the time and I lost thousands of dollars there. I fought it, but the university didn’t care.

Maryland— My termination wasn’t covered by insurance, so I just paid cash. Thankfully, it was relatively early (15 weeks gestation). The cost was around $800.

Canada—Once again I’m thankful to be a Canuck. I keep reading everyone’s stories with the recurring trend of struggling to find medical care in the different states (ugh!). It didn’t (but should have!) occurred to me that there’d be a cost associated with these medical procedures. It makes me angry that you all had to endure yet another unnecessary struggle when going through so much.

The only expense we had was for the NIPT testing, $700, as it’s not yet approved in Canada . We paid cash, and our insurance may still reimburse that cost. There are public counseling services available at no cost as well, although we can go to private counseling if we prefer, and it should be also be covered by most insurance companies. I expected there to be a crematorium/burial cost, but thankfully all the funeral homes in the city (yup, all) offer free cremation and basic services for lost infants and babies. Burial would have been an additional cost for the plot but we didn’t choose that route for our little girl.

Colorado—Our insurance denied the pre-approval for the D&E. However, we had an amazing patient advocate who, with our permission, contacted our insurance provider. They agreed to review our case. In the meantime, due to time constraints, we had to pay $5,000 (a 50% discount by the hospital) up front. We had to get the money from family. About a week after the procedure, our insurance came back and said it would be covered. The hospital reimbursed us.

Georgia—Our first termination wasn’t covered by insurance. My federal coverage couldn’t, and my husband’s insurance thought I had my own coverage and so wouldn’t. So I wrote the hospital, OB, and anesthesia and asked if we could pay at the contract rate that would have been if covered by my husband’s insurance. Anesthesia and the hospital reduced the amount by about half, the OB reduced it some. We ended up paying about $5,000.

Canada—Another Canadian chiming in! I did not see a single bill for anything related to the L&D of our son. We saw perinatologists, neurosurgeons, had an MRI, an amnio, a private room for two nights, etc. and didn’t see how much it cost. My husband’s work provided us with a small life insurance sum for our son. The funeral home provided us with the cremation services for free, and there was only a small fee for other funeral expenses—around $800—which my mother took care of. About three weeks later, I was rushed to the hospital for an emergency D&C due to retained placental tissue. I underwent general anesthetic and everything, and only received a bill for the ambulance ride. We paid that and were reimbursed 80% ($600) by our insurance. My L&D and D&C were in two different provinces yet we still were covered for all of our medical bills. I feel truly blessed to live in Canada and have such a wonderful healthcare system.

Canada—I second everything my fellow Canadians have said. No costs at all were associated with my diagnosis, labour and delivery, or after care. My crematorium also provided their services for free. The company I worked for gave me five days off for the death of a child (because I was past 20 weeks pregnant). In addition, they gave me short term disability for any amount of time I wanted off. The total incurred expenses from medical, labour and delivery, loss of work, etc. was $60.00. I too feel blessed to live in a country that provides like this. I wish I could change things for so many of you.

Maryland—I was lucky that insurance covered both of my terminations for medical reasons. The National Network of Abortion Funds to help those in of help to cover abortion expenses, and some local places have them too.

New York—We paid $25,000 not covered by our insurance, plus thousands in airfare, hotel and car rental. We were eventually reimbursed around $3,000. Our parents contributed airline miles which mostly covered airfare, and my in-laws gave us a few thousand. My mom flew with us to Colorado and paid the hotel and meal fees for the week. We are incredibly fortunate that we had the means to make the choice. While we were in Colorado, I remember talking about how this choice so late in the pregnancy was only available to the middle/upper class and how sad that was. For a brief moment that week, I felt lucky. I would definitely contribute to a fund to help others.

Georgia—We have a health savings account (HSA) so I had to pay the $5,000 deductible, but the rest was covered. I was shocked though as I live in Georgia. My doctor said they wouldn’t have covered it had I been 20 weeks or beyond. I was at 17 weeks.

Northeastern United States—My insurance policy paid for the medical care because I was treated by a doctor in a medical group and hospital. I am not sure that would have been the case with an abortion clinic; they were all asking for a fee up-front. However, I must say I did consider this in my decision. My first child was in the NICU for 10 days and I remember the bills. It was also covered by insurance then, but that was better coverage than I have now. Health care is not universal in this country and we have no idea what it will be like in 5, 10 or 15 years. It depends on the political climate, the state you live in, and the company you work for. This, to me, is crazy. How would I know what type of coverage my son would have in the future and how would I know what I could afford? Another thing to note is that any therapy afterwards was at my own expense. There is no guarantee of care. I am also Canadian but have lived in the Northeastern US for almost 15 years.

Maryland—My insurance covered all three of my terminations for medical reasons, but both procedures—a termination by induced labor, and a multifetal pregnancy reduction where we terminated two of three—could only be done in a hospital. I don’t know if my insurance would have covered a clinic termination.

 

All answers were provided by members of our private support group and published here with their permission. Thank you, ladies!

 

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