No doubt about it, some of the best things in life are surprises.
There’s the windfall waiting behind the silver ink on a scratch ticket. There’s the phone call from a long lost friend. There’s the Publisher’s Clearing House guy with the balloons and giant check.
In the case of the Glazer family, there’s Rachel.
When Arthur and I married, we both agreed we wanted children. Arthur, who was raised with two older brothers, had a distinct preference. He wanted a girl.
I had grown up as a lonely only child. I wanted Molly, our daughter from my first marriage, to have a sibling.
In December 1993, I thought I had the flu. I was tired and queasy. Nothing I tried seemed to help. After a couple of days, I realized flu was not the culprit.
We had health insurance. What we didn’t have was maternity insurance. We had been shopping for a policy that covered pregnancy. We just hadn’t shopped fast enough.
We scrambled around trying to do what we could to keep costs at a minimum. We arranged to make monthly payments to the obstetrician.
We made an appointment with the business office at St. Joseph’s Hospital (now Chestatee Regional) in Dahlonega where our baby would be delivered.
At this juncture, this becomes a cautionary tale. We thought we were doing everything right. At the meeting, we found that I could supply my own Betadine and blue pads. There would be a sign on the door, notifying staff that I was self-pay and to check with me before administering any medications. There weren’t going to be any $25 Tylenols for me.
What I didn’t know and what no one bothered to tell me, was that if we were in and out of the hospital in less than 24 hours, the services would be considered out-patient and we would not be charged for the hospital room. We could have easily left within that 24-hour window, had we known. As it turned out, we dilly-dallied for an extra 90 minutes and it cost us dearly.
Sometimes the question you don’t know to ask is the most important one of all.
My birthday was two weeks before my due date. When Arthur asked what I wanted, I didn’t have to think about it. My 40th birthday gift was an epidural.
Prior to this experience, I’d never paid a lot of attention to detailed medical billings. Now I perused them carefully. Twice I was charged for blood work that had not been performed. When we received the invoice for the epidural, the charge was almost double the price that I had been quoted.
In each case, a phone call corrected the problem. I doubt I would have even noticed the discrepancies if the charges had been covered by health insurance.
On Aug. 22, 1994, a caterwauling 7-pound, 13-ounce Rachel Savannah Hadassah Glazer entered into this world at the stroke of midnight on the cusp between Virgo and Leo. I can’t help but think there is some sort of Alice Hoffman-type magic associated with a birth hour like that. I hope so, anyway.
After Rachel’s birth, the hospital gave us a 15 percent discount when we paid the bill in full rather than in installments.
Today, the cost of health care is on everyone’s mind. What if everyone behaved as if they were spending their own money rather than Aetna’s or Blue Cross’ or Medicare’s? What if we were to double-check our bills even if we aren’t the ones paying them? It can’t hurt and it might help.
Having a baby without the safety net of maternity insurance coverage is a daunting, scary proposition. I can, however, state unequivocally, that the final outcome made all the effort and worry fade far into the background. At any price, it was a bargain.
And now, here’s a personal message to my daughter, Rachel: Rachie, always know while you may not have been planned, you were most certainly wanted. The best things in life are surprises. And you are most definitely one of the best.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears regularly and on gainesvilletimes.com.