Financial Musings on my Vasectomy

by Darwin on April 28, 2012

cutThe time has come for one of us to do something permanent.  We’ve now got 3 kids, we’re mid-30s, and we’re done.  I failed miserably at trying to convince my wife she should have it done.  I found some new lacroscopic procedure that was supposed to be pretty painless and cut out the article, but she wasn’t hearing it.  She reminded me of the 3 creatures she pushed out already and said it was my turn.  So, after much ado, I’ve undergone the consult and have the snip to look forward to.  On my way back from the consultation, I had varying thoughts on the topic and since I haven’t seen a post like this on a personal finance site, I thought I’d ramble a bit (and try to tie it all to finance in some way):

  • The Cost To Us – Depending on your healthcare insurance (mine gets worse each year and my annual increase was insane this year), people would tend to pay varying rates of course.  In our case, I paid a $25 co-pay for the initial consultation and who knows what I’ll pay for the actual procedure?  We have some convoluted payment system now where there’s an individual deductible limit, and 80/20 component and then they always find a way to extract more money down the road with some errant bill for testing or some weird reason why part of the services weren’t covered.  So, at the end of the day, I’m guessing the whole ordeal would a few hundred bucks minimum.  I guess that’s cheaper than another 15 years of condoms OR a whoops!
  • Whoops! – Speaking of “whoops”, I’d heard of this before but apparently, the tubes can regenerate, reconnect or whatever even after initial sterilization.  So, they make you come back months later and drop off some sperm (or fluid really) and make sure there are no viable sperm.  On that though; and I found this to be interesting – the doctor said that if the tubes grow back, they would redo the procedure for free.  That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a offer like that in medicine.  See, medicine is so prone to litigation that usually any notion or a do-over implies some sort of malpractice, which opens them up to a lawsuit down the road.  Say you had some sort of cosmetic surgery and it came out looking like crap.  If they redid it for free, you could then sue using their offer as evidence of their screwup.  I assume this is probably commonplace for this type of procedure because if the body somehow reconnects the tubes (something like 1% of the time or less), it’s completely out of their control and it happens after their work was completed.  Just thought I’d share the only freebie I’ve ever heard of in medicine.
  • 2nd Thoughts?  I had to sign a waiver that I fully understand that the procedure is meant to be permanent.  Evidently, men sometimes find themselves in some sort of life situation where they want to have the procedure reversed (like when they marry a hot young second wife who wants kids or whatever).  I don’t have concerns there so I consider it to be permanent, even though it can be reversed (but no guarantees hence the waiver).
  • Societal Cost of Birth Control (or Lack Thereof) – Several weeks ago there was a big hoopla in the news over whether women should have contraception covered by health insurance and that somehow turned into “men controlling what women can do with their bodies”.  Umm, actually it was about whether men and women should have to pay for someone else’s birth control.  As annoying as it may sound to have to reimburse someone else’s sex, from a societal standpoint, it seems to be quite cost-effective.  Same with abortions.  While I find abortions of convenience (which most are; but I have no criticism of the health risk cases, rape, other situations) to be morally repugnant, the reality is that financially and societally speaking, legalized abortion (and probably their funding/subsidization) is actually beneficial to society on many levels.  If you haven’t read the shocking study outlined in Freakonomics, the premise (and he has the data to back it up), is that due to the passage of Roe v. Wade, we saw a subsequent drop in violent crime (from unwanted children that were never born – who have a higher propensity to end up committing crimes in their late teens onward) which in turn yields benefits from lower incarceration rates (which taxpayers fund), to all the other funding unsuccessful Americans draw on taxpayers.  It’s a complex argument and you can’t often put a price on your own ethical or religious beliefs, but the numbers speak for themselves.
  • The Cost of NOT Being Sterilized – There are varying estimates of what a kid costs to raise and I tend to believe you “fit” spending per child into your life situation.  Huh?  This means if you’re pretty wealthy you’ll tend to spend a lot more than the government per-child estimates and if you’re poor you’ll spend less.  Additionally, a 4th kid to us would be MUCH less expensive than our first.  It’s incremental.  We have 2 boys and a girl, so either way, there would be plenty of clothes and toys to hand down and heck, we’d even have free babysitting down the road at this point.  However, college is a big one.  My 529 plan strategy has me planned at over $100,000 per kid in today’s dollars.  So, right now I’m saving for essentially another house (~$300,000) so I can put my kids through college someday since I’m not counting on any aide or scholarships.  I’m guessing over the first 21 years, with the $100,000 for college and probably at least another $100,000 for even an incremental child, a whoops would cost us over $200,000 easy.  That’ll make you think twice about unprotected sex, right?
I could go on, but these money-related thoughts were just the tip of the iceberg as I drove home from my consultation, aside from laughing to myself that the doctor actually used the word, “ball-sac” in the office.  I kind of smirked when he used the word for the third time; I just figured he’d use something a little more…scientific to describe that part of the anatomy?  But anyway, as unpleasant as it may be for a few days, my wife continually reminds me that it pales in comparison to childbirth, so I’ll tough it out!

Do You Have Any Financial Musings Related to Children, Sterilization or Population Topics?

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