Wednesday, March 02, 2011

29 Days to Go

Gay marriage is supposedly disrespectful to the institution of marriage. What about people who live together and choose NOT to marry due to financial reasons? I’m thinking of senior citizens who may be receiving some type of pension from a deceased spouse or their own Medicare/Social Security. Seniors put themselves in the position of having no rights to each other’s decisions and belongings. One partner dies after a 10 year long “late-in-life” relationship, and suddenly important decisions, vital information, the home they’ve shared, and lots of belongings revert back to children or other “family members” instead of to the person who has shared life most recently. Hmmm. This sounds familiar, I believe I’ve seen some made for TV movies about this sort of thing happening to people who happened to be gay. Either way, it makes for some tough interactions and negotiations among family members and partners who may not know each other very well and have differing loyalties.

Someone marrying for a visa or citizenship is certainly not entering into marriage for traditional reasons. Although I know of couples who entered marriage for citizenship reasons and THEN fell in love. This proves that there might be something to the idea that “hitching your star” to another person, in a formal, legal, and recognized manner… it throws two people together under specific circumstances: but love and loyalty can and do spring from such partnerships or arrangements.

I know of couples who have violated their own personal moral beliefs and lived together in a relationship without marrying… why? Because both people happened to have disabilities and receive assistance from the State that is still necessary despite the marriage. Yes, you heard me right. People are inadvertently punished for marrying, in that state benefits, health insurance, and personal care assistance take a sharp decrease when two become one. Does the person with a disability suddenly have a different level of need for assistance? Probably not.

I’ve been thinking of all of this because of an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” (shaddup.) where a doctor marries a patient so that he can be on her insurance plan and therefore get life-saving surgery, medication, and care. I believe that there are a lot of people out there who are marrying for health insurance. I know I am not the only one in this situation: My 18 months of COBRA coverage of my insurance is up on March 31. I spent the first 14 months of employment working full-time on school in order to get prerequisites completed for Nursing School. My intention is to enter nursing school in the fall and after the first two semesters I'll be an LPN, then the next 2 semesters get the RN degree. When I was first laid off, it quickly became apparent that the economy and job market were not working in my favor. Thanks to a friend’s prodding and support, I took a leap and began school so that I could eventually reach this point where I would be able to apply to the Nursing School at the community college I’ve been attending.

This worked out okay as long as the most critical pieces of the puzzle were taken care of. I had a roof over our head, my daughter in a preschool program that I feel strongly about, and COBRA health insurance with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Now, though, as the March 31 deadline approaches, it’s starting to feel like the bottom is dropping out. Unfortunately my track record of maintaining perfect health is not so good. I’ve cost BC/BS more than a million dollars over the years, some of that as recent as last spring. I’m pretty sure they don’t really want to insure me. So after years of working through my own health issues and helping to continue an annual benefit for people who don’t have medical insurance, I am 29 days away from beginning my own adventure as an uninsured American. I saw my doctor yesterday, and he suggested I get hooked up with HealthCare Access for help, particularly in getting my insulin and supplies. He ran every possible test to see if I was healthy (No one has called so I’m assuming I am) and ordered a physical and mammogram to be completed as well this month before the insurance runs out. I hope none of these tests shows any problems, as I have a very short window of time to get fixed.

2011 has brought about a renewed sense of urgency to find a full-time job with benefits. It would be nice to like the job. It would be nice if it netted a bit more than my current rate of unemployment. In reality though, WITH BENEFITS is the key phrase. I will do what I have to do, although I’m “affirming the manifestation of a wonderful job being a perfect fit for me.” I really do believe in thinking positive, but realistically even when I get my full time job there will likely be a waiting period for the insurance no matter what. The next problem challenge will be applying for and getting IN to nursing school, and then what? I need to work full-time so I have benefits. I’m not sure how working full-time will fit with nursing school, but I do know that there are evening/weekend options for both a job and work. It won’t be forever. So should I wait and seek out the job that will allow me to attend nursing school like I originally planned? Will we (me and my daughter) get the financial security that the medical field will provide? Will I love the job?

OR will I take a job that is full-time with benefits options right now, and potentially put school on hold AGAIN? I fear that I will end up needing to get financial aid, a part time job, and survive without insurance coverage for the two years it will take me to get through. So I’m looking at this upcoming gap in insurance as a “practice run” for the no-insurance part of nursing school? Unfortunately, I rely on my insurance not only for catastrophic health events, but also for monthly prescriptions, which could be $400 per month if paid out of pocket. I guess it will all work out the way it is supposed to, and opportunities, circumstances, and gut feelings will guide these tough decisions that will need my attention down the road. In the meanwhile, I wonder if I should be putting ads on Craigslist? SWF seeks person with excellent insurance benefits to enjoy n/a pina coladas, walks on the beach, and obsessing about my health. Weight/amount of hair unimportant.

1 comment:

gypsy said...

This might be the best post you have ever written.

This issues are confounding and ridiculously complicated.

PS - I'd marry you, if I could.

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time . Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." --E.B. White