Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

How about hospital visitation?

To "why?", who was not even courageous enough to include a name or an e-mail address, have you considered:

  • The right to visit a spouse or a child who is in the hospital?
  • The right to make medical decisions for a spouse or a child?
  • The opportunity to continue living in the home that you and your spouse shared, after the spouse has died?
  • The right and privilege of being responsible for your spouse's living expenses and debts?
  • The right and privilege of serving as the parent/guardian of your spouse's child?

I could go on and on. You demonstrate a rather limited understanding of the implications of marriage. Whine all you want about getting the government out of people's lives. Marriage affects thousands of rights and benefits, public and private. It's an institution that isn't going anywhere.

You've conveniently left out the responsibilities associated with marriage. Paying taxes on a two-income basis is a responsibility; historically, the tax bill for a married couple has been higher, not lower (ever heard of the old "marriage penalty")? Assuming your spouse's debts is also a responsibility.

As far as the regulation of employer health insurance plans goes, do you oppose:

  • Required coverage of breast cancer screenings?
  • Required coverage of prescription contraceptive medications/devices, to the extent that a plan covers other prescription items?
  • Required maintenance of coverage for retirees, as long as active employees have coverage?
  • Required coverage of mental health services, to the extent that other medical services are covered?
  • Required availability of continuation coverage -- at the patient's own expense -- when the patient loses group coverage?

These are all examples of existing federal and state regulations on employer health insurance plans. The last one will be interesting to you, since you claim that employer health insurance is just between the employee and the employer. COBRA, the Consolidated Budget Omnibus Reconciliation Act (big federal law that does many things at once), requires employer health plans to sell continuation coverage to people who lose group coverage. This can happen, for example, if you are laid off, if your parent or spouse (who was the covered employee) is laid off, if you divorce your spouse (who was the covered employee), or if you become too old to be covered as a dependent of your parent (who is the covered employee).

There is no cost to the employer, since the patient is required to pay 102% of the premium that the employer would otherwise pay. The law doesn't impose a financial burden on employers, but it does accomplish two important things for patients. First, it guarantees that coverage will be available, at a time when individual insurance is almost impossible to get. Second, it guarantees that the coverage will be provided at a fair price (i.e., the same price that the employer would otherwise pay).

Here's the rub. COBRA defines spouses as opposite-sex people, and children as legal children of the employee or of the employee's opposite-sex spouse. So the regulation is already in place, it provides the only realistic health insurance option for many opposite-sex married people and their children, and you don't want to extend it to cover same-sex couples and their children?


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