Archive | April, 2011

The Oeuvre of Bertha B. Moore

5 Apr

The Triplets Receive A RewardI can’t decide if this is super cool or super eerie, so I’m going with “cool”.

In preparation for the coming crew, I was doing a few random searches on all things triplets and I began wondering if there were any triplet-specific children’s books in the world.  As it turns out, in the 1940s and 50s an author named Bertha B. Moore wrote a series of kids’ tales about a fictional set of triplets named Teddy, Iva and Iona.  Quite a few, actually, nearly all out of print.  But you can still find a handful of well-thumbed copies if you know where to look.

The weird part?  The last name of the fictional triplet children:

Baer.

Psst. If you and I are previously unacquainted, that’s an alternate spelling of our name.

Anyhow, it looks like I now have a decent idea what the gnomes are getting for their first Christmas. Thanks, Bertha B. Moore, whoever you were.

(This probablty trumps the time some Canadian guy sent me the entire Jeremy The Bear series on DVD.)

The Insurance Shuffle

4 Apr

A-one, a-two, a-hinka dinka doo.

April is “open enrollment” month, which is that single month of the year when you can make whatever changes to your policy you want for no reason whatsoever.  Rather than having some sort of sensible rule like “you can’t change your policy more than once in a six month period” or “your policy changes are dependent on the start date of your policy” or even “change your policy whenever you like, we’ll tell you whether it negatively affects your rate”, no.

YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE IN APRIL WE LIKE APRIL CHANGE IT THEN.

Bee bop a-rebop.

The amount an individual pays into health insurance over the course of their lifetime will always be less than the total benefit they receive.

Seriously.
It’s not even close.

“Hi, my name’s Jeremy.  I’m calling about my insurance plan because I know we’re coming up on open enrollment.  Currently, I’m in Elect Open Access and I was wondering if that’s the best policy for my wife and I to stick with.  Thing is, she’s pregnant.  It’s triplets, actually, and that means she’ll probably be hospitalized a while and there’s a chance the three babies will too.  Since we’re headed for this big life change, is there a switch I should be making?”

“Uh.  It’s up to you.”

“Right.  I know.  But could you assist me?  I don’t really understand the ins and outs of these policies.”

“It’s right there on the benefits sheet.”

“Yeah.  But if someone could maybe walk me through a couple of scenarios to see if… er… I’m sorry, can I get some sort of advisement?”

“Not really.”

“Not reallly?”

“I can email you the benefits sheet again.  How about that?”

Slide to the left.  Slide to the right.

Frustrated, I talked to my dad.  I probably should’ve gone to him first, since he actually sells this stuff for a living.  He looked everything over.

“Two things, Jer.  One: I’ve never seen insurance this expensive.  Is this typical for California?  It’s ridiculous!

“I don’t know.  I guess it’s typical.”

“Two: how much of this are you actually paying for?  What’s your employer’s contribution?”

“They contribute $125.”

“Uh huh.  You know what I’m thinking?”

“Is it along the lines of ‘Sayonara California’?”

“You said it, buddy.”

Step-ball-change.

It’s more or less a given that triplets are going to experience time in the hospital NICU.  Probably weeks.  Carey had heard about a special program in California in which the state takes on the financial burden of NICU care for newborns.  Of course, this is all dependent on a family’s income.  And since we’re part of the ever-shrinking middle class, having triplets, it’s very likely that we’re poor enough to need it desperately, but not quite poor enough to receive it.

Rather than messing with CalChoice (the network that networks HMO networks), I decided to start calling the HMOs themselves to get a straight answer on what this is going to cost.

“So, I’m looking here at the benefits and it says ‘Hospitalization Services’ includes ‘pregnancy and maternity care’.  $450 copay per day, with a maximum out-of-pocket of $1,800.”

“That’s correct, sir.”

“Okay, so I have a question on that.  And I apologize for how specific I have to be about this, but it’s the reality of what’s coming up for my family later this summer.  Here’s the situation: let’s say my wife has to go into the hospital for bed rest at 28 weeks.  She stays in the hospital until she’s at 34 weeks, at which point our doctor performs a C-Section and the babies are born.  Triplets.”

“Okay.”

“But there’s a problem, see, and two of them need help breathing and there are all sorts of weird complications.  They’re premature and they need to stay in the NICU for weeks.  Multiple weeks.  Meanwhile, my wife’s recovering from the surgery and on and on.  So, two months after she first went into the hospital, everyone goes home.”

“Right.”

“You’re saying all that… everything… that’s one, single out-of-pocket for us of $1,800.”

“Correct, sir.”

“!!!  Are you serious?  That’s incredible!  Months in the hospital and we get hit for less than $2,000?”

“Yes.”

“That’s the best news I’ve heard in months!  Wow!  Thank you!  We’re definitely switching over to you.  Ah, that’s so great.”

“Glad I could help!”

“Now, is there anything else I should know about that scenario?  Anything I might get surprised by?”

“Well, one thing.  Let’s say the newborns need to stay in the NICU longer than your wife’s recovery.”

“All right…?”

“Say your wife needs a week to recover, but the newborns need several weeks in the NICU.”

“Yeah, that could definitely happen.  That changes things?”

“The day your wife leaves the hospital, we need to start treating the newborns as separate copays.  They’re now individuals, requiring their own special circumstance.”

“No more $1,800?”

“Well, no.”

“What would I need to pay?”

“It depends on how long the newborns stay in NICU and what they need.”

“It’s suddenly a hell of a lot more than $1,800.”

“Well, yes.”

“How much more?”

“Well, let me look up your maximum annual out-of-pocket-for-family.”

“Because we’d definitely reach it.”

“Oh, sir, yes.”

Lean back. Lean back.

So, we’re now in April and I need to submit our Renewal Change Request forms in the next couple of days.  Unfortunately, there is no special “in case it’s triplets” gift basket from insurance companies and it’s all about keeping things as cheap as possible.  I’m looking at several options that all look good, all with different caveats that could turn evil in a hurry.

That California NICU money?  Who knows.  We can apply and see what happens.

Will Carey be in recovery as long as the newborns are in the NICU?  Doubtful.  But it’s possible if she manages to hang on to them for an exceptional amount of time before delivery/surgery.

Do I feel like I understand less about insurance than when I first climbed aboard this mad merry-go-round?  Would I prefer it all stop and take care of itself?  For just a minute?  Please?

Oh, sir, yes.

Cha cha cha!

Contribution

2 Apr

WIFE:  Can you turn that off?  I think I want to go to bed.

ME: You don’t want to watch the end of this?  I think it’s almost over.

WIFE:  I can’t keep my eyes open.  Just pause it, we’ll finish it tomorrow.

ME:  Well, I mean, I think there’s only… okay.  Sure.

WIFE:  C’mon, I’m tired.  I can’t make it.

ME:  I know, I know.  It’s fine.  No problem.

WIFE:  No, what I need you to say is, “oh, honey, of course you should go to bed.  You should get as much rest as you can.  You’re working so hard carrying our three precious little ones around.  They need so much right now and you’re doing all this by yourself.  Whatever I can do, darling.”

ME:  What do you mean “all by yourself”?  I contributed something.

WIFE:  Yeah, but I’m doing this all day, every day for months and months.  Your contribution was, what, five minutes.

ME: …

WIFE: …

ME: Ouch.

WIFE: Ten minutes at the most.

The Odds: Gender Edition

1 Apr

“Are you finding out what you’re having?”

Boys? Girls? Eh?It’s not an issue I covered in the FAQ because it honestly didn’t occur to me it would even be a question.  But friends have asked and cripes, yes, definitely, we are finding out the genders, tout suite. The births day will be insane enough without throwing Dancing With The Stars-style reveals into the mix.

The gender-unveiling could happen as early as a few weeks from now and we’re beyond anxious.  We’ve heard stories about modest fetuses that refuse to let their parents know, ultrasound after ultrasound.  Fingers crossed for three little exhibitionists.

Anyhow, I started doing a little math, because I’m a sucker for things like odds and research.  So here goes:

ASSUMPTIONS

  • All three babies will survive delivery and beyond
  • The triplets are not identical
  • Gender-bending oddities like hermaphroditism has been discounted
  • Ratio of boys to girls under normal circumstances = 1:1

Okay, that said, odds of a single-child pregnancy (you know, the way normal, sane people do things) is pretty straightforward:

The Odds: Single Child

Non-identical twins. Slightly more complicated, but not much:

The Odds: Twins

Triplets?  I had to grab a pencil and paper for this one and break down each possibility, of which there are 8.  As follows:

Non-Identical Triplets Gender Chart

That said, we have 4 basic combinations with odds that look like this:

The Odds: Triplets

Chances of at least one girl: 87.5% At least one boy: 87.5%

The odds seem to sharply favor a combo, but I guess we’ll see.  It’s what Carey prefers (her ideal is 2 boys, 1 girl).  Me, I don’t know.  I suppose I’d like to have a son somewhere in the mix.  I think we’re in agreement that all three being the same gender (25% chance) probably isn’t what we’d want most… though, I’ll admit it, when we first got the news, all one gender was my preference.  “Stick ’em all in one room through high school.  Boom, done.”

But here’s where we do our classic parent-to-be refrain (I think they take away your permit if you don’t repeat it at least a couple of times a week).  All together now, people:

WE DON’T CARE WHAT THEY ARE, AS LONG AS THEY’RE HEALTHY.

(But c’mon, Jesus, do us a solid and throw a boy in there for us, would you?)