Revisiting – Paying For It

Last week, my open enrollment for health insurance through my employer opened.  This was coupled with getting a robocall from the Monster’s school on Friday night, asking why we’d not submitted paperwork for the free-or-reduced-price lunch program.

Both of these come from the whole, complex issue of “paying” for the Monster’s Autism.

The robocall – the easier of the two to address – is an abnormality.  The Monster goes to a Title I school assigned by Baltimore City Public Schools, and is probably one of the few students in his class who is not eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.  (Which isn’t to say, as a neighborhood friend pointed out to me, that we’d not have gotten the same call from our zone school – a large number of the kids in that school also qualify for the program.  It’s a problem endemic to our city.)  We didn’t submit paperwork to seek his eligibility because we’re fairly certain that he’s not eligible due to my income.

But it’s very much like the forms we fill out at the start of the year for him, asking after whether we/he are on Medicaid – they’re trying to find ways to get money, either federal or state, to help defray their costs.  I’m personally wondering at what point they start asking if I have private insurance, and for the information to potentially bill that.

Speaking of insurance, I’m dealing with the annual health insurance sign-up through my employer.  While Maryland now has a habilitative care mandate that goes into effect next month (basically, as I understand it – it requires unlimited SLP/OT/PT for conditions such as Autism)… that only holds for plans regulated by Maryland.  My insurance through work is Blue of California, a company that is not regulated by Maryland and therefore immune to the mandate.  This means that the Monster has 100 SLP and 20 OT visits covered by insurance off the bat, prior to any additional approvals.  The wife and I are still weighing the pros and cons of the various plans I’m eligible for, because as the paperwork from my company points out, “Due to our offerings, you are unlikely to be eligible for any stipend from the Affordable Care Act if you choose to decline coverage”, and therefore, we’re likely to stick with our current plan.

Again, as I’ve said before, I don’t really have an objection, per se, to paying for what I can, for my fair share as it were.  I… suppose my issue is feeling very much like I’m paying a lot and not getting my money’s worth.

I mean, let’s look at the facts:

  • We live in Baltimore City – the most expensive, tax-wise, jurisdiction in Maryland (property taxes are double the next highest jurisdiction).  That doesn’t count problems such as the higher car insurance (Baltimore City is a single zone, so residents of good neighborhoods pay as much as residents of bad ones) or other such private payment problems.
  • I still don’t think my son’s school has a gym teacher.  The only physical activity he’s getting is his weekly gymnastics class – which we pay for, since we didn’t get LISS funding this year -, recess and our taking him to the playground.
  • The supply list from the schools each year is getting longer and longer, and including more class-wide items, such as rolls of paper towels.  We’re buying more of the things the schools used to supply.
  • The Monster’s school sent home a flyer last week begging for folks to send in Box Tops for Education.  That’s a plea, really, for up to $20k more in funding which makes me wonder how bad things are.  (I’m not confident so many other parents in our school are going to participate.  I’m clipping all I can.)
  • The Box Tops fundraiser is on top of one or two more explicit fundraisers they sent home, asking for folks to buy things with proceeds supporting the school.
  • We just had the issue with the aides in the Monster’s class – I don’t know that the school is doing enough to train and vet the folks they are paying for.

I can, obviously, pay for quite a bit.  Just… how much am I really expected to pay?

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