1.26.2007

Lack of Same-Sex Partner Benefits = Financial Disaster

Somewhere, there is a ski lodge that this past weekend lost two customers.

Ordinarily, Robin Hurni and Jeanne Williams would have gone skiing last weekend.

The winter sport is one that the Denton, Md., couple once enjoyed. But because Hurni’s new employer won’t cover Williams’ health care costs, the skis were stowed.

“We’ve held back on doing activities because of the lack of health insurance,” Hurni said. “If she got hurt, what would we do?”

While I am sure the unnamed ski lodge will survive, the situation that Robin Hurni and Jeanne Williams is more serious. Because Hurni's employer does not provide health insurance for her partner (a benefit guaranteed to heterosexual couples), they are in a constant state of emergency.

Hurni, a sonographer, said her job options are limited. And after taking $3,000 out of savings to buy health insurance for Williams last year, additional expenses are not feasible.

The couple is now earnestly searching for a remedy — and hoping that Williams stays healthy in the meantime.

“It’s a precarious position,” Hurni said. “We stand to lose the house if we don’t have benefits and something happens.”

Now, if they were a heterosexual couple, the solution would be simple. Marriage would force Hurni's employer to cover Williams and the couple would continue to be productive citizens, unburdened by insane health care prices.

However, because they are lesbians, they have no recourse. A medical emergency for Williams would incur a financial disaster much greater than missing out on two customers on a popular ski weekend.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no simple way other than marriage to guarantee family rights. Equality Maryland states:

“Marriage Inequality in the State of Maryland” documents that without the ability to secure a marriage license, same-sex couples have no automatic legal right to:

- Take Family and Medical leave to care for a sick partner
- Ride in an ambulance with a partner
- Visit a partner in a nursing home or hospital
- Receive Social Security benefits in the event of the death of a partner
- Sponsor a foreign-born partner to stay in the country
- Inherit jointly owned property without incurring crippling tax penalties
- Roll a partner’s pension into their own
- Make burial decisions
- Have the security of continued insurance coverage after the death of a spouse
- Take advantage of social services provided to help families cope with catastrophe, poverty, homelessness, or abandonment
Add to that list that without marriage, employers are not required to provide benefits such as health insurance to partners, even when they already provide these benefits for heterosexual spouses.

Anything less than legal same-sex marriage is insufficient. Lets hope the court of appeals does the right thing.

9 comments:

Rfustero said...

How difficult would it be for an employer to say, we will cover your insurance, and if you are willing to contribute 1/2 of the cost for your partners insurance, we will pick up the other 1/2.

While everyone writes and talks about the Canadian system, more people should give a look at the German system.

It has been in existence for over 100 years and adopted by over 40 other countries.

Currently, it is going under some rough spots, but it does offer insurance for everyone.

Andrew Kujan said...

The German system does look interesting. It would certainly be a step up from our current system where so many are uninsured.

Anonymous said...

it is insane that these people contribute to the tax base, supporting the local economy and local infrastructure ...but are treated as second class citizens. One would think at the very least society would want to protect the income generating segments of its population

king said...

As the population has gotten older, the need for health insurance has increased. Despite possible changes in the regulatory environment, healthcare is expected to continue its rapid expansion.

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Anonymous said...

Ur both sick. Ur hooked on pills booze and shoot up with dirty needles. How bout that medical marijuana. I would bet that's what ur employer objected to. Probably why u got fired. Grow up and take responsibility for yourself!

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