The LA Times reports that people marry for health care:
WASHINGTON -- Some people marry for love, some for companionship, and others for status or money. Now comes another reason to get hitched: health insurance.
In a poll released today, 7% of Americans said they or someone in their household decided to marry in the last year so they could get healthcare benefits via their spouse.
Since there isn't same-sex marriage throughout most of the US, I'm going to assume that the vast majority of that 7% is heterosexual couples. It's not at all surprising, though, considering how health care is distributed along the lines of marriage and how little people question the wrongness of it all. More on that after.
I found the link to the health care poll through SusanG, who writes:
Can't wait to hear the right-wing wurlitzer crank up to demand universal health insurance to preserve the sanctity of wedlock. Surely all those desperately non-insured brides and grooms hooking up are threatening the marriages of all the rest of us. Right?
That is, though, the whole point of associating all sorts of rights with marriage. Remember Milagros Irizarry vs. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, where a teacher at a Chicago school wanted DP health care benefits, available to unmarried gay extended to unmarried straight couples? Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief on her behalf, and the court derided Lambda with:
Lambda wants to knock marriage off its perch by requiring the board of education to treat unmarried heterosexual couples as well as it treats married ones, so that marriage will lose some of its luster.
The point of tying these benefits and rights to marriage is to get people into marriages, fast and rough. The Religious Right doesn't care at all if these marriages are "legit" in any romantic sense or happy for the people involved, they just want to get more people in heterosexual marriages and stop sex from occurring outside of the confines of that institution. Period.
While I'm sure that most of those 7% are doing alright, I'm concerned with the power it gives the partner who's getting access to the health care through his or her wealth or job, especially in cases of disability or chronic illness. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that people who want to leave a marriage, for whatever reason, should be able to without worrying about where they're going to get their next prescription filled.
This is just another reason why we need single-payer health care in this country. People should be able to make choices about marrying or not marrying based on what they want, not how they need access to health care.
And people who can't find someone with good health care to marry are just as worthy of accessing health care as anyone who can.