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Kailua, Hawaii, United States
I was born in Claveria, Philippines on September 6, 1984. Presently, I live in Kailua, Hawaii. I'm happily married to Bryn Kaufman and loving being a mother of our son, Zachary Kai. We have a very energetic and very cute Maltese dog, named Snowy.

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US Healthcare issues - my personal experience

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Insurance, Immigration Split Couple for Baby’s Birth

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A windward Oahu couple anxiously awaits the arrival of their first baby, but immigration and insurance issues will split them up for months approaching the birth and after. The mother can't get maternity benefits in time so she'll be having the baby in the Philippines and they want other international couples to learn from their experience.

When Ellen from the Philippines met Bryn from Kailua, they had a lot in common, including what they wanted in a family.

"I knew right away I'm going to have a baby, so we even talked about it online already, you know, 2 kids," Ellen Kaufman said.

They married last year and sure enough…

"After 8 months then it was, ah!, honey, I'm pregnant, so it was just like that," Ellen said.

But they hit an unexpected roadblock -- they say they can't get coverage for maternity benefits until a year after Ellen's green card comes through, and they've been waiting for the green card since last June.

"We didn't find out that we couldn't get maternity until we knew she was pregnant," said Bryn Kaufman.

That means paying out of pocket for the birth which could hit tens of thousands of dollars if there are any complications. The same would cost just a couple thousand in a Philippines hospital. So she leaves next week for the Philippines to await a Sept. 6th due date, by coincidence, her own birthday.

"I's kind of ironic that you have to go to a third-world country in America because the health care is so difficult and expensive to get," Bryn said.

It'll be weeks more after baby Zachary is born before he can come home to his nursery and their puppy, Snowy.

"She can't come back right away because then we have to get a passport for the baby so they allow the baby back in," Bryn said.

"Snowy, you know I cuddle him every morning, I play with him, so I'm kind of just worried,” Ellen said. “Just me and the baby, and then without Bryn."

They say they understand insurance companies may be wary of opening floodgates of immigration just for birth if coverage were more quickly granted, but…

"When you're married to a U.S. citizen that's been paying taxes paying insurance for 20-plus years, then it should be looked at differently," Bryn said.

In the end they say they just don't want to see other couples have to go through the separation they're about to.

“If other people knew that this was the situation then they might do their family planning a little differently,” Bryn said. “I guess the lesson is to check into it before you even start thinking about having a baby and know, what’s going to happen, and are you going to be able to get insurance? It would be nice to see the system change, but that's not easy.”
The state's largest health insurer HMSA says there are waiting periods for this and other certain coverages. They say read the guide to benefits and know what is covered so you select the plan that is best for you. They can only insure residents of Hawaii, and someone is not a legal resident until he or she has a green card.