Monday, December 17, 2012

Notes from the NICU: The Finance Stuff

Neonatal intensive care is EXPENSIVE. Baby M will be a million dollar baby when we bring her home, probably a million plus.

Our hospital is amazing in that they treat any child with no regard for ability to pay. We are fortunate that we picked the best health insurance available to us. It's a high deductible plan, but the deductible is totally manageable and after that everything is covered 100%. Not only that but because of her birth weight, Baby M qualifies for state aid which will cover the deductible for 2013 (which we will reach, in full, on January 1) so we probably won't have any out of pocket medical expenses for the entire year. Maybe some prescriptions, but that's about it.

Aside from the cost of her care, our finances are sort of wonky right now. We are spending more on gas driving back and forth to the hospital, but almost nothing on food - we've bought only things like milk and instant oatmeal for months. I posted about my initial discomfort with receiving assistance from the Ronald McDonald House, but I am long past that. We eat dinner there almost every night and I am grateful for it every day. We will be coming back to serve a meal in the future to pay it forward, hopefully on a very regular basis. The care we are receiving from them has already encouraged our extended family to contribute through the collection bins in McDonalds restaurants.

We don't really go shopping at all - Christmas is totally canceled, and the baby shopping is done. I can't justify spending time in a store when I could be cuddling my kid. It means that I have missed out on a lot of couponing deals for items like diapers and wipes that I would otherwise be stocking up on but you know what? We can pay full price for wipes. Big deal.

We did manage to pay off my student loans in the middle of all this, though. We've been chipping steadily away at them, but we decided to take the money we'd been setting aside for our Roth IRAs and just get rid of my loans and start dumping extra on Peanut's. It sucks to not max those out for a year or two, but we gain a lot more security and monthly cash flow in the short term by doing this. I always liked Dave Ramsey's recommendation to shore up your finances when you see storm clouds on the horizon, and this is one way to do that.

The hardest part of this financially is keeping track of where our money is going. We are almost always on the run, and keeping our spreadsheet up to date has been a little challenging. This sort of thing makes me crazy for some reason, but if the biggest financial headache I have while my daughter is in the hospital is that a spreadsheet doesn't match the number of bills in my wallet, I am lucky and I just have to keep that in mind.

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