Carrie and Dan Renzulli have always had insurance through Racine Unified even though Dan's employer, a private company, also offers insurance plans.
Carrie is a first-grade teacher at Fratt Elementary, and the family's new insurance plan starts tomorrow, July 1 under the agreement the teachers' union struck with the school district in March.
They Would Have Waited for a Second Baby
She admits they had the "Cadillac" of insurance plans until the switch. During her first pregnancy in 2009, Carrie and Dan paid a $15 co-pay at her first pre-natal appointment and their insurance paid the rest. Now, Carrie is due to give birth to the couple's second baby in October, and their out-of-pocket expenses will rise exponentially.
"We have to pay $4,000 to have this baby," she said. "If we had known what was going to happen with the cuts to schools and the concessions with the unions and the district, we probably would have waited to build up more savings."
The problem with switching to Dan's insurance, Carrie added, is that their premium would rise to about $300 a month with about the same deductibles.
How the new insurance works, she explained, is that all the charges accumulated from the beginning of her pregnancy will be billed after the baby is born. The insurance will pay 80 percent after the $4,000 deductible is met, which accounts for a about a quarter of the total cost.
"I made a lot of phone calls to try and figure out how much having the baby will cost and we're thinking it's about $15,000 when you add it all up," she said.
Because she is considered high risk (age 35) and doctors think the baby's umbilical cord is attached to the placenta on the side, Carrie has to have ultrasounds every six weeks. Once she found out how the insurance changes would affect their family finances, Carrie said she scheduled as many tests as possible prior to the switch.
And meeting the $4,000 deductible is only good through the end of 2011. Once Carrie and her family ring in 2012, a new $4,000 deductible goes into place.
"That means we're also paying full price for any prescription medications we need, too," she stated. "I'm thankful that we don't have any chronic illnesses or conditions, but even anti-biotics for an ear infection will be full price for us until we meet that $4,000 mark and then the insurance kicks in."
A Safety Net of Sorts
What Carrie has that many teachers and their families may not, is a safety net of sorts as a small business owner.
Together with her mother, Cathy Schmidt, Carrie is co-owner of Miche Bag by the Lake. The company focus is purses; a base and interchangeable faces. Mother and daughter applied to the company to become distributors, which allowed them to recruit, hire and train sales staff.
"It works a lot like candle parties," Carrie explained. "Someone hosts a Miche party, a sales rep comes in and presents the product and then people at the party buy."
Carrie said she wanted to get into the business to transition to a stay-at-home mom at some point, but starting a business in 2009, which she was pregnant with her first child, was a little scary.
"The recession was hard and we weren't sure women would want to buy purses," she said. "But we thought, well, let's see how it goes."
It's going so well that Cathy and Carrie are opening a small store on Washington Avenue, but Carrie said she has no plans to quit teaching just yet.
"We're not financially there for me to quit and really, I have a great job," she said. "I have a great teaching situation and really great co-workers, too."
Carrie acknowledges her safety net and what it means for her family. Without the business with her mom, she knows she would be forced to quit teaching because the cost of daycare for two kids and the health insurance would be too much.
"I'm taking an $8,000 pay cut between insurance and my pension," she explained. "If I didn't have Miche, I would be freaking out, to be honest."