The day after a team of doctors and nurses conducted an emergency c-section to transfer our son from an incubator that could no longer support his growth (me), to an incubator in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, I emailed the President, the Chief Operating Officer, and VP of Human Resources where I worked.
My full-time employment came with full benefits – including health care coverage for my entire family.
On that day I woke up with staples in my belly, milk soaking the front of my pajamas, and our 2lb son hooked up to more tubes and monitors than my very foggy head could process.
I was scared and exhausted – and mostly grateful. Which is why despite these conditions and feelings, I asked my husband to go home and get my laptop.
Our health insurance afforded our family access to some of the nation’s best doctors and hospitals throughout my entire high-risk pregnancy. It also ensured our son’s spot in one of the most respected NICU’s in all of Massachusetts.
That email to the President, the COO, and the VP of HR likely included TMI and far too many typos. I wasn’t even a full 24-hours out of surgery when I crafted it – but, I felt strongly that the first real step in what I knew would be a very long road was saying thank you.
I was discharged from the hospital five days after Briggs was born. He lived there for more than two months. Thanks to the health insurance offered through my employer, the entire ordeal ended up costing our family $1000 out of pocket. I don’t remember seeing the full breakdown cost of my surgery, but I do remember seeing the complete bill for Briggs’s NICU stay. It was $76,000.
I remember thinking: Way more than I make in a year.
Access to health insurance saved my son, and me, and our family. It meant we could receive the care we needed without fear of losing our home or enslaving the rest of our waking moments to paying back an ever damning debt.
We got hurt. We got sick. And we got help.
That’s a grateful path that each of us deserves to have open to us forever and always.