blogtavism

OK. So I’ve already written a letter to my congressperson that attempted to be rational and factual while also being personal. I got my response this week regarding my request that he support the Family Building Act of 2007. Unfortunately, I can’t tell from his response what his stance is on the issue. So I’ll have to write again. But I’m not going to post that here.

I’m going to post the story, per Mel and Flicka’s request of the infertility blogosphere. And I’m going to try to include details I’ve been reticent about previously. So it’s not going to be 4 paragraphs. It can’t be because I do think it’s significantly different than most stories.

I’ll outline the basics:

  • Initially had minimal infertility coverage through Mr. Hope’s work: diagnostics and IUI
  • 3 Clomid/IUIs failed
  • Insurance change – NO coverage
  • Quickly did laparoscopy, hysteroscopy, and one injects/IUI with donated meds before coverage change
  • Moved to out of pocket IVF/ICSI x2 plus a FET – paid for with savings, selling my car, cashing in lousy retirement plan
  • Got a job at Kinko’s
  • Did 2 more IVF/ICSI cycles with Kinko’s insurance coverage and I’m now pregnant

We were (and still are) young. We had no idea (does anyone?) how difficult a road this would become. We were 9 months into living in a new house with 4 bedrooms. We tried to conceive on our own for about 10 months. I charted, I knew I was ovulating, and I knew there was something wrong. So I pushed my ob/gyn.

We were initially very lucky – we didn’t know how lucky. Our insurance at the time covered all diagnostics (even when coded with the dreaded 628.9 CPT code). It also covered treatment – essentially unlimited IUIs and the ultrasounds that went along with them. No IVF coverage, and no coverage for drugs.

The thing I will say here is that I’ve always been covered under Mr. Hope’s group plan. The public school system in Texas pretty much has a lousy insurance plan for their teachers. We wouldn’t have had any coverage for infertility had I been insured through them.

So it made the initial part financially simple. We, without financial hesitation, made that appointment with the RE. We did the testing. We did those initial Clomid/IUIs at the cost of approximately $180 per month.

But they didn’t work. And then we got the letter saying that the insurance plan was changing. I called and wrote a letter, but it didn’t matter. Administaff, the company that provides HR services for Mr. Hope’s employer, had made up their mind. In fact, they claimed they didn’t know they were providing coverage for infertility and had never intended to do so at all.

So things changed. We did a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy and squeezed in one injectable/IUI cycle with meds my doctor’s office donated before the insurance changed as of January 1, 2006.

And it still didn’t work.

So we made a decision to move to IVF. The IUIs weren’t working, and we were suddenly going to be stuck with approximately $2500 in costs per cycle – with, at best, a 20% chance of working. Or we could pay approximately $12,000 for a nearly 60% chance.

We had been saving because we knew this was looming. We stopped spending on other things – and we’d made some good decisions prior to this – our cars were paid off, we had no credit card debt. And I kept vigilant track of mileage, parking, and medical receipts to take advantage of the tax break.

So we paid out of pocket. Not once, but twice. Plus the cost of a FET. Our out of pocket medical expenses for 2006 exceeded $30,000.

We sold my paid off Nissan Murano, bought a slightly used Mazda 3 free and clear, and pocketed (or my doctor’s office pocketed) $5000. I quit my job, but did contract work and cashed out of the Texas Teacher Retirement System for another $7000.

But it still didn’t work. And we knew we couldn’t sustain this forever (we’d already sold the car, afterall, and Mr. Hope wasn’t going for my suggestions of selling the house).

So I did a lot of research. And I found out that FexEx Kinko’s health insurance plan covers IVF. You have to work full time for at least 90 days (your coverage begins on the first of the month after which you’ve completed 90 days). All 3 plans they offer cover 6 IUIs and 3 IVFs, including ICSI. The most expensive plan costs $100 per month and had (it’s changing slightly for 2008) a $250 deductible, with a $1000 out of pocket maximum. Coverage is at 90%/10% for in network, and 70%/30% out of network. After you’ve paid that $1000 out of pocket (very, very easy to do with IVF), you pay NOTHING. There is also $3000 in drug coverage with a 50% co-pay with a maximum of $100 on things like Gonal-f or Follistim.

So this master’s degreed Speech-Language pathologist got a job at Kinko’s. I worked from 3PM-11PM Monday through Friday. I made copies.

Those copies are what allowed us to do two more fresh cycles of IVF. Kinko’s allowed us to treat our medical problem. Not Mr. Hope’s job. Not my job. Kinko’s is why I am pregnant. Period. So thank you, Kinko’s.

I worked there for about 5 and a half months. Then I got really smart and decided to quit and take COBRA. The COBRA costs to continue the health, dental, and vision plan were $369 per month. A bargain.

We finally let the COBRA coverage lapse at the end of October. I’m back on Mr. Hope’s insurance plan. The one with no infertility coverage.

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~ by Larisa on November 8, 2007.

No Responses Yet to “blogtavism”

  1. WOW, what a story. It’s so sad that both of your professional career health plans had no coverage but that a corporate minimum wager like Kinkos did. That is really amazing. Good job you for figuring that out.

    Will you name your baby Kinko? 🙂

  2. Mrs. Hope
    My DH and I have been TTC for what seems like forever. I happened to come across your blog and I only read your last blog. I’m assuming from other things on your blog page that you live in/near Hopeville TX. So, when you worked for Kinko’s was it in TX? What’s the name of the health care plan, if you don’t mind me asking? I have felt lead to leave my job in January but not sure where to go. If Kinko’s in TX covers IVF, I’d definatly be interested in employment with them. Thanks for sharing your story….it gives me hope.

  3. I actually looked into what companies offered IVF benefits when we were in the middle of insurance hell this time last year. I seriously considered quitting my teaching job and going to work for the local cell phone company. It is amazing what we will do for insurance…

    Thank God for Kinkos!

  4. Holy crap, you mean to tell me that instead of spending $32,000 on infertility treatments so far, all I had to do was get a job at Kinko’s?!?! Damn, I wish I’d known that. You are one hell of a researcher, Mrs. Hope. So tell me, does Kinko’s cover donor egg too? If so, I am getting myself a job.

  5. Responses to questions:

    Diana – won’t name the baby Kinko; we’ve talked about a dog, though.

    Nancy – yes, I worked for Kinko’s in Texas. The name of the plan really isn’t important – it’s all about whether or not the employer opts to cover their employees. The Kinko’s plan is the same in all states except Hawaii. All 3 tiers of the plan are administered by BCBS of California.

    KristyLynne – No donor egg coverage to my knowledge. Sorry.

  6. Oh, and I should add that Kinko’s has added a $5000 adoption benefit that is accessible once every two years.

  7. A long time lurker at your blog. I had gone through an ectopic via IUI and am now pregnant with IVF. I had a lot of first trimester bleeding too!!!WOW, reading your account brought tears to my eyes and I had to comment. I also greatly admire your persistence in this regard. Kudos to you and your husband!! congrats on your pregnancy and I know that you will get your reward in your beautiful baby girl!!!

  8. Glad Kinko’s came through for you! I’ll be a kinko’s/fedEx supporter from now on!

    I, too, have no coverage for ART through my negotiated contract in education – drugs but no procedures. We’re working on changing that!

  9. Mrs. Hope,
    I am also a long time lurker on your blog though now am a blogger myself so feel a bit more comfortable commenting. I am ecstatic about your pregnancy but also humbled by your story, your stuggle and your perseverence.

    I was lucky enough to work somewhere where IVF/ICSI was 100% covered. Too bad it was just announced that the plan is to change on Jan 1st. Just in time for our 1st IVF/ICSI cycle! I don’t yet know what the new plan covers. Perhaps I will follow in your footsteps!

  10. If you don’t mind answering some more questions…

    1) How do you find out what a plan covers when you’re not a member? I have a hard enough time finding out when I am covered or when I am trying to decide amongst plans my or my husband’s employer offers (none cover IVF or IUIs, it turns out).

    2) How many hours per week do you have to work at Kinko’s to get benefits? IVF coverage wouldn’t make up for the salary disparity, so I was thinking maybe my husband or I could work a second job there.

    3) How did you get past the overeducated hurdle and get hired? I am in a similar situation, and I doubt they would hire me with my education and career background (I’m about 10 years older than you). Did you tell them upfront why you wanted to work there?

    Thanks. Getting desperate here–several failed procedures at the cost of many thousands, and running out of time, literally, and pretty soon hope.

  11. Anonymous-

    1) Kinko’s was one of the few I could get good information on prior to hire. I do, however, think that if you are persistent, they should be able to give you the name of the plan, the toll-free number to the insurance company, and/or the benefits documents. The school district provides those upfront; I think hourly places just think they don’t have to. Oh – and kinko’s has a website… benefits dot fedexkinkos dot com.

    2) The minimum number of hours is 32. Most locations either hire you full-time or part-time – part-time will not get you what you need. The salary discrepancy is significant for me; however, it was worth it for us (it would not have been worth it for my husband’s job).

    3) I told them I was doing contract work that didn’t have health coverage. So I needed something that didn’t prove to be a conflict of interest (there are sometimes issues with working with a school district and attempting private services on the side) that had health insurance. So, I didn’t tell them why exactly. They were a little baffled. But I was a smart, hard worker, so they didn’t care.

  12. Thanks so much!

  13. You are brilliant! I hope others who need coverage will find your blog and learn what to do.

  14. Hi,
    is it true that for those people who have had some infertility issues in the past FedEx Kinko’s offers infertility benefits after one year of working there? I live in St Louis MO, and thinking about getting a job at Kinko’s only for IVF coverage they offer, and don’t have one year to waste waiting for IVF. Please let me know if you have any information about this.
    Thank you,
    All best
    Mia

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