Marrying for health care

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.


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4 replies »

  1. Anyone reading this know someone who got married because of health care costs? We are working on a story at CBS News and are trying to find a few couples to interview. Please contact wallacek@cbsnews.com

  2. Gosh… how sad that someone can get married so they could get health benefits, I mean, isn’t time for us to change the way we face health benefit? If countries like Italy have free health benefit, why can we do the same?

  3. Wow, I have two responses:
    1) It’s sad that we live in the wealthiest country and a good number of people do not have access to health care. That’s pitiful.
    2) I can’t believe your friend was denied insurance for allergies. I’ve never heard of that. That’s ridiculous.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. A high risk pool only makes sense in the insurance world not in the healthcare world – where most of us live. Government please take our high risk and older Americans so we don’t look bad and can keep making money. In a single-pay system the higher risks are spread over many more covered and paying individuals so the cost is not nearly as great. It’s also the shared price of community – not what many Americans care to adopt, as it’s all about them.