Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Contribution to the Healthcare Debate

I can be a shouter, but plenty of shouting is already happening around the healthcare debate. Nonetheless, here's my story.

Now that I've shacked up and Boyfriend is laid off, it's time to add him to my insurance. I'm lucky enough to have employer-subsidized insurance, and my plan offers domestic partner benefits. It's a high deductible plan, but I have some money saved in my HSA and so far all has worked for me. Perfect. Almost.

I go to work and ask how to go about adding a domestic partner. You have to fill out a form and have it notarized (for the record, you are not required to prove you are actually married with any type of official form). Fine. His premium is not pre-tax like mine and like a spouse's would be. Slightly less fine, but grit my teeth and agree to pay it.

Oh ... and he can't access the money in my HSA. And my employer can't contribute to the HSA at the rate they would if we were married. Not fine.

Apparently it's an IRS rule. Since he isn't married, getting the full benefit of my insurance (which we would be paying for) is too much of a tax advantage. Remember that Boyfriend is not fortunate enough to be employed full-time (not for lack of interest or skills), so a tax burden is indeed burdensome.

So, now it comes down to marriage being a tax benefit for the married. We're fortunate enough to have the option to get married (a subject for another post), but we have chosen to remain unmarried for the time being (yet another post). I don't think access to healthcare is a good reason to get married (I'm sure it happens, though). I don't understand why standing in front of a judge or a minister would suddenly make him more attractive to insurers. I don't understand why marriage is a state institution (oops, treading on the ground of that other post).

So, to recap, my healthy 30-year-old boyfriend and I (a healthy 29-year-old) will pay about $900 a year for his insurance. Which will kick in after he reaches $3,000 in medical bills (let's all hope this doesn't happen). If it's a truly catastrophic event, we will pay over $5,000 out of pocket, and we won't be able to use my health savings account to pay for any of it -- and since we don't typically have an extra five grand, that money will either wipe out our savings or come from some type of loan, or we will pay a hefty tax penalty. We want him to have insurance. We want to pay for it. But the system sure does make it difficult. I've never written to a politician before, but I am researching addresses.

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