Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bonus, baby!

Hubby and I are down to living on one wage (like a lot of people I don't qualify to get maternity pay) and right now is when all the bills are coming in. We chose to go to a private obstetrician because we have health insurance and the idea of continuity of care really appealed to me. But down the business end of pregnancy that gets mighty expensive! Having to see the obstetrician fortnightly and then weekly adds up very quickly I can tell you - and this is for a complication-free pregnancy I might add, who knows how much it would skyrocket if something was going in an other than textbook fashion.

I could rush in here and say “I'm not complaining...” but we all know that would be a lie. I am complaining. I know there is nothing I can do about it, I chose to go privately – but having a little whine will make me feel a whole lot better. At least we don't live in the United States (although universal health care did just get signed in, its not up and running yet). I read the blog of a Texan woman (awesomely titled 'His boys can swim!') who did not qualify for health insurance and subsequently had to pay all her medical costs up front out of her own pocket. She kept track of every pregnancy medical bill and the grand total was over $10,000! This is before she's bought any clothes or a cot, making the $1000 challenge look almost pathetic in comparison. We get to sign a little piece of paper for most of our blood tests and get partial refunds from Medicare for every doctor's visit - until you stop to think about it, its easy to forget just how lucky we are. We don't have a perfect health care system by any measure, but right now I'm very grateful for it.

Then of course, we can add to that the Baby Bonus. According to the Family Assistance Office, the Baby Bonus is to paid to families following the birth (or adoption) of a child in recognition of the extra costs incurred by the new addition. Its means tested so the amount of money you receive depends on your income (and some other criteria), but if you were to receive the full amount it is currently a whopping $5185 paid in thirteen equal fortnightly instalments. Not bad. Not bad at all. Definitely better than a poke in the eye with wet fish, or however that saying goes. Plus there are all sorts of other payments like Family Tax Benefit A and B, the immunisation allowance – and as soon as I figure out what those things are I'm sure I'll like them too.

However if I was able to change the system in any way it would be to have those lovely fortnightly payments starting about now. Finish off the nursery, pay those bills and be a little less worried about making the mortgage payment on time... and of course the new plasma TV - practically a right of passage for new parents since the Baby Bonus was introduced.

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