Monday, February 11, 2013

Women, Infants and Children...and Me

Baby M came home from the hospital on a prescription high-calorie diet made of special premature infant formula and a food thickener. I knew that it was unlikely that she'd come home exclusively breast-fed (most micropreemies don't) but I wasn't expecting that she'd be entirely formula-fed. The white blood cells in breast milk kill the thickening agent, and it's really crucial that her milk be as thick as honey or a milkshake - or else she breathes it in and chokes. So formula it is.

Formula is really expensive! Each can is around $17 and right now we go through a can in less than four days. And each week, she takes a little more volume per day. With us dropping down to a single income for the next six months, I wasn't sure how we'd swing an additional $125 per month on top of the $300 per month for her prescription co-pays.

I inquired if our primary (employer) or secondary (state) health insurance would cover the formula since it is a prescription diet, and they declined, but they pointed me to WIC - Women, Infants, and Children. I didn't know much about the WIC program before this, but I had some assumptions. I thought it was the same thing as food stamps. I thought it was only for low-income or otherwise disadvantaged women. I thought it was one of those situations where you see someone in line with three carts of groceries and most of it's junk food. I definitely thought it was not for someone like me.

And under most circumstances, it probably wouldn't be. I'm not sure what the income guidelines are, but I'm positive that when Peanut and I are both working, we would make way too much. When we're living on just his income, like we are right now, I would guess we are still making too much. But, at least in our state, WIC also provides coverage to anyone who is receiving state health insurance (which we are due to Baby M's birth weight) regardless of income.

So I went to the appointment not sure what to expect. After answering a ton of questions and providing my weight, height and a blood sample (for an iron test, not a drug test), I was told that Baby M will receive vouchers for 11 cans of formula per month - and that *I* also qualify for vouchers, since I am technically a breastfeeding mom (I am still pumping around the clock in the hopes that someday she will nurse, and if not, well, I'll have a freezer full to mix with her cereal when she starts eating solids!). The vouchers that I qualify for cover things like milk, eggs, cheese, fruit, veggies, cereal, and beans. I tried to decline them on the basis that we make enough to pay for our own groceries and I wouldn't feel right taking it from someone less advantaged, but the woman told me that my accepting them would not mean that someone else wouldn't get aid. (She also said that after all we've been through, we deserved a little help, which is a concept worthy of a future post.)

At any rate, the initial appointment  provides for three months of vouchers before we make another appointment to review our situation, so I accepted the vouchers. The difference the grocery assistance makes is noticeable but not necessary for us to make our budget, but the formula help is a godsend. I'll post more about my experience actually using the vouchers in a few days!

Have you ever been on WIC? What was your experience like?


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you decided to take the help. Isn't it nuts how hard it is to take help? But yes, it doesn't stop others from using it and if you can put money in the coffers for other emergencies that come up, that's all the better. We never imagined I'd not be working two years later, and if I do go back this coming year, it'll only be part time. I know what it has done to our bank account, I'm not even going to think about what it is doing to my 401K, and income expectations. Two years off work, will impact my employ-ability and the level of work I'll be in when I go back. Part time will basically be saying, I don't care about advancement. Also, you'll want to save the money incase she goes on pediasure after neosure...pediasure makes neosure look cheap! PS - did you see my high cal cheat sheet on my blog? Makes mixing high cal formulas really easy. I don't know if it'll work without the thickener, but thought I'd mention it case it does. I hope all is going well at home. It can be so overwhelming, even if it is amazing.

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