About 7 percent of Americans recently reported in new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll that someone in their household got married so they could get health benefits. While 7 percent may be a bit high, I have no doubt some people consider health benefits when deciding the timing of their marriage.
I gave similar advice to a friend only a few months back. She had recently moved to Denver with her fiancee, and was temporarily unemployed. She wanted health insurance and could afford to buy it, but she couldn’t get it.
Except for seasonal allergies, she’s a healthy 26-year-old woman. Allergies were reason enough, however, for two insurers to deny her coverage. Her fiancee’s policy only covered spouses. My advice: get married quickly at City Hall and then again eight months later at the planned wedding. (She rejected that idea and found a job after about two months of looking that offered health benefits.)
Under John McCain’s proposed health plan, many more people like my friend may be denied coverage. His solution? Create a high-risk insurance pool. But do allergies make my friend high-risk? I don’t think so. Where do individuals like her fit in?
Over at the Health Access blog, Anthony Wright describes California’s high-risk pool, known as the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, or MRMIB. It currently has a waiting list of more than 500 people. Another example of people who want insurance but can’t get it.