Because I feel like I cannot adequately convey the level of suck and frustration that is our life at the moment, I would like to employ a feature that punches the reader in the face every paragraph or so. Just so you get the full experience. Fortunately for you, this does not exist.
If you haven’t been updated on our issues with health insurance, you’ll want to check those out in this post.
It’s been a stressful few months trying to navigate everything. Searching for answers and coming up with nothing. But last week we finally received one. While satisfying, it simply compounded our frustration.
First (this is not the satisfying part yet), at the suggestion of several people, we contacted the US embassy in Munich. We explained our situation and asked if they had any insight or knew of any resources that could help us. The initial response said nothing more than that they could not give us any money. Which we weren’t even asking for! We responded to clarify, and got the response that they are not allowed to offer us any advice.
So that’s good to know. Unless you’ve lost your passport or been arrested or something, the US embassy is not there to help you.
Next William did more research. We continued to find that foreign students are usually publicly insured. So we went into the immigration office one last time to ask why this didn’t apply to us. And finally, after so many months, we got an answer (so slightly satisfying): we are not allowed to receive any social assistance at all. This includes public insurance.
But the worst part was when I mentioned this to the social worker for young immigrants or my teacher. And both responded with something along the lines of, “I knew that. Anyone who is not a German citizen is not allowed to receive social assistance, including gesetzliche Krankenversicherung.”
Well, if everyone – the immigration office, the social worker, my teacher, etc. – already knew about this, why did no one tell us? Why did it take over two months of asking and searching and talking to everyone we could get a hold of to find out? And this still does not explain why university students get public insurance but William does not.
We’re emotionally exhausted from this process and from this bureaucracy. If we had just been given answers when we started back in November, if we had just been informed of these things, we could have made different choices, and things would have been easier. Less stressful. We may not be left with the hardest decision of our life.
See…at the end of November, the day after Thanksgiving, we received some news that would change everything. I was 4 weeks pregnant.
Pregnancy is a preexisting condition. While I would receive amazing public coverage, no new private insurance plan would cover my expenses. And I was no longer a healthy young adult. Now I needed regular doctor’s visits. A perfect pregnancy would cost 8,000€. Complications could quickly skyrocket costs to over 50,000€.
I learned that I am still insured under my parents in the US, and that in Germany it will function like any out-of-network coverage. There were two big problems with this: certain important screenings would not be covered, and we would have to pay everything out of pocket before applying for reimbursement. With the bank restricting our cash flow, this could become difficult.
But we persevered. We were sure that would could get health insurance eventually, and we had the cash for now. But then in January, within the same week, we learned I am completely uninsurable and had a scare that brought us to the doctor for an unscheduled 87€ ultrasound. Manageable then, and the baby is healthy, but we realized how quickly our finances could deteriorate. What if next time it is something worse?
A decision was made. As much as the idea hurt, I would go back to the US to receive care and give birth. Not only would it be easier on our finances, but I would be in a more comfortable environment. I would be sure that I could easily communicate with whomever was caring for our child and me, and I would have many more resources available. By the time we found a plane ticket, I had just 10 days notice. I fly on February 23rd.
William will stay in German to continue with his schooling. Depending on how things go, it is likely that he will stay all the way to the end of his school year – just 5 days before my due date in August. If that is the case, we can do nothing but hope that the baby decides to stay inside the full 40 weeks or longer. My heart is broken enough as it is without considering that he might miss the birth of his first child.
And what after? We don’t know. Right now we are trying to wrap our heads around the pain of being separated for up to 5 months while I carry our child. As much as we would like for William to finish his schooling, as we learn more and talk more and things progress, it seems likely that we will remain in the US instead of returning to Germany. At least for now.
It feels like there can be no right answer, and we are beyond fatigued. We just want what is best for our family. And Germany seems to be unwilling to offer that.