When you have a kid, your health insurance co-pay suddenly becomes significant.
@NeuroticWife has been nagging me to write about health insurance. Here's my advice to new or expecting parents: if you are ever presented with a choice of health insurance plans, you should absolutely pay attention to the co-payment, or co-pay, in addition to the premium. Of course, the plan's coverage and benefits are equally, if not more, important, but this post will focus specifically on the financial aspect of health insurance plans.
For young, healthy adults--without children--the co-pay is essentially a non-issue. In the last three years, I've been to the doctor only twice. Moreover, I don't take prescription medications. At this rate, the co-pay amount in my insurance plan doesn't significantly impact my overall healthcare spending.
When you have a kid, however, you practically live at the pediatrician's office. In her first six months, our baby has had six scheduled checkups, plus at least another three unplanned visits. Factoring in a nine-month and one-year checkup, plus one more un-planned visit, that's a minimum of 12 doctor's visits in the first year. Imagine if you or I went to the doctor once a month on average?!
In this scenario, the co-pay amount starts to make a big difference on your out-of-pocket healthcare spending. A $10 difference in co-pay would result in an additional $120 in baby-related healthcare expenses alone, whereas a $25 difference would mean a whopping $300 more.
With health insurance premiums rising at such an alarming (and ridiculous) rate, your co-payment amount might not ultimately tip the scales in favor of one plan over another. I'm just saying that it shouldn't be overlooked when calculating healthcare expenses, especially for new parents.
Before Steph and I had a baby, we had no idea how much more we would use our health insurance. In fact, when Steph's employer conducted a survey of whether people preferred higher premiums or higher co-pays, she chose the latter. Had we known then what we know now, she might have answered differently. Hopefully, this post provides new or expecting parents with some of the knowledge we lacked.