This story made the front page of today's New York Times:
Health Benefits Inspire Rush to Marry, or Divorce
Though money and matrimony have been linked since Genesis, marrying for health coverage is a more modern convention. For today’s couples, “in sickness and in health” may seem less a lover’s troth than an actuarial contract. They marry for better or worse, for richer or poorer, for co-pays and deductibles.
Sometimes people are actually divorcing in order to afford healthcare-- read this sad story:
Other couples, like Michelle and Marion Moulton, are forced to consider divorce so that an ailing spouse can qualify for affordable insurance.
Ms. Moulton, 46, a homemaker who lives near Seattle with her husband and two children, learned three years ago that she had serious liver damage, a side effect, she believes, of drugs she was once prescribed. She is trying to get on a transplant list, but the clock is ticking; her once slender body has ballooned, and her doctors say her liver could give out at any time.
Mr. Moulton, a self-employed painting contractor, maintains a catastrophic coverage plan for his family, but its high deductibles and unpredictable reimbursements have left them $50,000 in debt. Without better coverage, a transplant could add unthinkable sums.
Two years ago, Ms. Moulton looked into buying more comprehensive coverage through the Washington State Health Insurance Pool, a state-financed program for high-risk patients. She found the premiums unaffordable, but noticed that the state offered subsidies to those with low incomes. As their debts and desperation multiplied, it occurred to Ms. Moulton that divorcing her husband of 17 years would make her eligible for the subsidized coverage.
“I felt like I had done this to us,” she said. “We had worked hard our entire lives, and if this was all the insurance we had, we could become homeless. I just said, ‘You know, we really need to sit down and talk about divorce.’ ”
Mr. Moulton would not consider it — at first. “From a male point of view, you want to be able to fix things, you want to be able to provide,” he said.
“Then you start looking at what things cost and what someone with no assets can get in terms of funding, and you have to start thinking about it.”
The conversations ebbed and flowed with the family’s financial pressures. They talked about the effect on their children and where they might live. They weighed the legal and financial risks against the prospects of bankruptcy.
The debate continued until this summer, when Mr. Moulton’s father offered financial help. “I know we don’t take charity from anyone,” Mr. Moulton told his wife, “but I’m not going to divorce you and I’m not going to let you die.”
Though grateful for the lifeline, the couple remains unsettled by how close they came.
“Nobody should have to make a choice like that,” Ms. Moulton said. “What happened to our country? I don’t remember growing up like this.”