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Keep our home, or pay for health insurance?

When my husband and I began having kids in 1995, his health insurance coverage for our family through IBM, his employer, was only about $60 a month for us; IBM paid the rest. Family coverage included 2 or more kids, all at the same rate. We went on to have more kids, but our out-of-pocket prices per month for coverage were soon up to $250, and then around the time we had a fourth baby, the policy changed that we had to pay per child. This brought our monthly insurance bills exponentially higher all of a sudden. Our coverage grew worse, and the cost grew higher and higher. By the time we had our fifth baby, we were looking at paying very close to a thousand dollars per month for family health insurance coverage, and this didn't include steep co-pays on the asthma meds and other monthly prescriptions. We began to have to choose between paying our mortgage and our health insurance each month. We came terrifyingly close to losing our home to foreclosure at one point.

Finally it occurred to us that perhaps our kids would qualify for the state SCHIPP plan. We looked into it, and we fell well within the parameters to our surprise. It has been an unspeakable relief to not have to struggle between keeping our kids' health insurance and paying our mortgage-- my husband's income has not come even a little bit close to keeping pace with the cost of living, gas prices, insurance fees, food prices, etc., and we were truly going to end up homeless or completely without health insurance had our kids not been granted access to the state program. Had either of those things occurred-- either losing our home or our health insurance-- we would have become a bigger drain to our local economy for sure. We would have become the fourth home in our cul-de-sac to go into foreclosure, bringing the value of all the homes in our neighborhood down substantially. Or, had we kept our home and not our insurance coverage, we would have ended up at the local ERs everytime we needed more asthma meds or Rx filled or anytime we had a case of a childhood illness needed attention from a regular pediatrician.

We are tremendously grateful that our kids can be covered in this way. We don't take it lightly, and realize it's tax dollars that pay for their coverage. We hope to be able to get them back on private coverage at some point in the future when (?) our income begins to keep pace with the costs that have skyrocketed in recent years.

—JenVA
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