As I stated in a previous blog post, when I first learned that my wife was pregnant, the first word that escaped my mouth was “No.” First, I must provide a little context to the story. Many people do not realize just how expensive it is to attend law school. Very few students make it through without any student loan debt unless they come from a wealthy family or they were offered a full-ride or near full-ride scholarship. I, unfortunately, fit into neither of those categories.
I entered law school just as tuition began to rise at an almost unheard of pace from year to year. For example, tuition for my third year was approximately 33 percent more expensive than what tuition cost during my first year. Also, many people do not realize that most law students are not allowed to work during their first year of law school. I actually had to sign a contract specifically stating that I would not work at all during my first year, and that I would not work more than 20 hours per week during my second and third years. These factors make getting through law school without student loan debt nearly impossible.
So not only is law school ridiculously expensive, but I was going through just as the recession hit. Many attorney positions disappeared when it was time for me to graduate. Some firms were even paying their lawyers to stay home from work during that time. Luckily, I was one of the few from my graduating class who was able to find an attorney position upon graduating. Unfortunately, I learned that the rumors that lawyers make lots of money are not exactly true for most of us.
Given the seemingly astronomical amount of student loan debt and my modest pay, finding extra money to pay for health insurance was just not possible. My firm, like many firms, does not offer health insurance to its employees. In terms of my family, it meant that there was just not enough money to pay the student loan payments each month, the mortgage (which is actually $300 cheaper than renting), car insurance, utilities, food, and health insurance.
My family did not qualify for any state assisted health insurance programs because I made too much money. Finding a different job was not a realistic option considering the state of the legal market and my level of experience at the time. Taking a government attorney position would have provided health insurance, but it would have left us unable to pay for food or our mortgage. My family was stuck between being able to afford health insurance and making too much money to qualify for any state assisted health insurance programs.
The month before I learned my wife was pregnant with Vivi, my family’s position had improved just enough to where we could finally afford to buy insurance. I began the process of finding the perfect health plan. I had spoken with a health insurance agent several times that month and had narrowed our options down to three plans. All I needed to do was select one of the plans and inform the insurance agent of my decision. On the day I was set to do so, my wife and I were both surprised by the most unexpected news — she was pregnant with our second child. We both had begun to believe that this was not possible due to Casey’s infertility issues. As I read the result on the pregnancy test stick, I immediately realized we were going to have a baby without any health insurance. That reality was beyond scary and thoughts of bankruptcy began to dance in my head, and without hesitation I said, “No.”
Fortunately, after a few stressful months of examining our options we stumbled across a healthcare plan that worked for our family and our situation. Vivienne was born several months later and we could not be any happier that she is a part of our little family.
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