As society continues to devalue marriage, more and more couples are living together without that contract that sustained so many relationships for so many years. This non-unique situation can have many benefits such as increased freedom and less mess upon separation. But it has drawbacks as well, and health insurance is one of them.
Many couples only have single coverage or even none at all!
To examine the phenomenon we need to first look at the statistics. A San Francisco MarketWatch study, which analyzed data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, was published in October’s issue of the journal “Contemporary Economic Policy.” It contained all the statistics concerning the health insurance status of married and unmarried couples. They found that a unmarried couple is three times more likely to be uninsured as a married one!
With such alarmingly higher uninsured numbers, many unmarried partners are at great financial risk should something serious happen. If a sudden injury occurs there is a chance it might financially cripple them. Because of this worry such couples often delay or even forgo preventive treatment. This then causes them to have to go in for expensive emergency room treatment once the malady reaches the breaking point.
Even if domestic-partner benefits are available in their area, unmarried couples have to consider the tax implications of joining a partner’s plan because health insurance is taxed as income among non-spouses. Often after comparing the price to the cost of buying an individual health plan, many couples opt to simply stay single covered.
There is some hope, however. Corporations led the way in offering to cover the spouse with the primary fifteen years ago, and the onus is on them to do so once again. The states seem to take cues from the corporations, who because of the obvious financial incentive of keeping workers satisfied always move much faster in instituting reform. At the end of 2003 about forty-three percent of Fortune 500 companies along with 8,000 smaller businesses offered the exact same level of health coverage eligibility to live-in companions of workers as did to workers’ spouses, according to a study by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
So even though the current situation may look somewhat dire, there is hope that with further advancement these policies will one day be available to all unmarried couples. You should not have get married to get a good insurance rate! And the realization that this is true shows a great evolution in the way health insurers operate and view the world. Here’s to continuing further down that path…