Saturday, April 18, 2009

Counting Down To Maternity Leave

The countdown has begun! Just about six weeks left until I start my second maternity leave. Needless to say, I’m counting down the days, and trying my best to prepare everyone and everything for my absence.

My checklist includes:
* Let my employer know the date I expect to stop working and when I expect to return
* Discuss with HR what my options are in terms of pay during maternity leave (if any), short-term disability payments available to me, how I will pay my insurance premiums during my leave
* Contact my insurance company representative – it’s a good idea to speak with a real, live person to find out if there are any forms to fill out before leave starts, how insurance deductibles and premiums will work as a result of labor and delivery, and how to add your new little one to an existing insurance policy
* Make a list of all my job duties, and meet with each person who will be taking those over so that the transition will be as smooth as possible.

But surely there are other surprises waiting for me – things I haven’t thought of? I decided to ask other mothers on for advice in the hopes of making maternity leave every bit as relaxing as it can be – with a newborn and toddler, that is!

They didn’t let me down. Here are some of their suggestions:

* Ask for the maximum amount of time off that you can. Maybe more. You can always come back earlier (yeah, right!), but it's hard to ask for more time once you're out. – Susanna M.

* Find out which person will be your claim representative because they will be your point of contact for all things dealing with short-term disability. – Renee G.

* The day that you go into labor, have someone at your work notify HR so they know when to start your paperwork. If you have a certain number of days before short-term disability starts, they will start the clock right after you leave. – Renee G.

* Talk to your employer now about what you will need to pump when you return to work. And don't take "the employee bathroom" for an answer. – Susanna M.

* If you haven't found a day care, get on a list IMMEDIATELY! No one told my husband and I this, and we searched for MONTHS to find quality caregivers. – Renee G.

* Be sure to understand your company policy regarding maternity leave, short-term disability, the difference between FMLA and non-FMLA. I thought I understood the policy but when I had to go out early on bed rest things got complicated as to when the various types of leave started and stopped. – Mindy S.

I also created a list of questions for Lindy Harrison, my BCBS representative, and she gave me some invaluable tips on what to expect from the insurance side of things:

When should I expect the bill?
“Usually the first statement arrives a week after delivery stating the hospital filed with insurance. Bill statements start arriving about 30 days later.”

What kind of out-of-pocket expenses can I expect to incur during my hospital stay?
For those of you who plan on delivering at Northside:
“If you ask for a private room you will pay the difference between private versus non-private (this was around $40 three years ago). Keep in mind that all the rooms at Northside are now private. So, if you don’t ask for the private room and you get it, BCBS will pay the difference. We will have to appeal to have them cover it, but will win. So my advice is not to ask for it.”

And her final nuggets of advice:
“Don’t forget to send in the forms (so many parents get caught up in the birth of the child, they forget to send in insurance forms to cover the child.”

“Don’t pay any claim until you have an EOB that matches the payment due.”

And finally, here is a list of other resources I found useful. Because, as I learned the first time around, there’s nothing that makes a mom’s life easier than being organized!

Maternity Leave: The Basics

Preparing for Maternity Leave: Countdown

Prepare Early For Maternity Leave


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