Everyone says 'it can't happen to me' or 'that only happens to THOSE kind of people' and especially 'they must have DONE something to deserve that.' Particularly when it comes to Birth Defects. No one thinks it is going to be them. That it's going to be their kid.
So when Monica and I found out that our child was going to be born with a congenital heart defect, that she would require immediate surgery, that she would (if she survived) need a series of surgeries throughout her life in order to just survive we spent a lot of time asking 'Why God, Why!'
We also spent a lot of time asking 'Can we afford this?'
I was switching jobs. We were moving a thousand miles away. We were going to need new doctors, new hospitals, a new support network AND new insurance.
Fortunately we were able to enroll in insurance with my new employer, the pregnancy (a pre-existing condition) was covered, as were all of our daughter Audrey's significant medical bills. Audrey was born with something called hypo-plastic left heart syndrome, as well as deformed kidneys, and a double esophageal atresia. She had multiple surgeries in the first week, and four major surgeries in four months. She was housed in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Miami Children's Hospital.
Unfortunately, after four months, Audrey died -- she was not able to fight off the multiple infections and the continuing failure of her lungs and kidneys. We were wrecked. We had thousands of people around the country praying for us for months, family and friends visiting constantly, a never ending supply of casseroles and home cooked meals and lots and lots and lots of coffee. But none of that could make her lungs pump a bit stronger, or her kidneys to turn back on, or her tiny heart to uncrooked itself.
Of course after the trauma, the stress, the anger, the pain, the loss and the hurt... there were the bills.
And what was MOST amazing? How much was covered.
Yes, we blew through most of our savings. Yes, we maxed out a credit card or two. But the total bills for the four months was in excess of three MILLION dollars. Without pre-existing condition protections - where would we come up with that kind of money? Without the abolishment of lifetime caps - where would we have come up with the extra money when our insurance ran out?
I watched a lot of families over the four months in the ICU. I saw couples that stayed together and some that broke apart. Families that supported their kids, and families that disappeared. Over those four months I found two common elements that held those families together -- faith in something larger than ourselves ... and INSURANCE. Nothing is sadder than seeing a baby sit alone in a room because the parents cant afford to care for it. Don't want to get stuck with the bills. Or watch a couple come apart at the seams because they are dealing with both the loss of their child and their savings, house, car, and livelihood.
If we want to really protect families and support people of faith doing it the right way - we need to make sure they have insurance. Insurance that protects them when the unthinkable happens. It happened to us.