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Health Insurance and the (Single) Self-Employed Mother (Rant) by Elisa Garcia

medical symbol Google imagesSomething really needs to be done about the state of healthcare in this country.  Politics notwithstanding, it is a sad state when a (legally) single, self-employed woman cannot secure healthcare coverage for her child.My partner, Jackie, and I have been in a loving and committed relationship for the past seven years.  Five years ago, we held a celebratory but ultimately non-binding holy union.  Together,  we are raising a beautiful and spirited, chronically otitis-afflicted, almost-three-year-old daughter.  I helped raise her now twenty-year-old son during his tumultuous teenagehood, and together we navigated and survived such tough parenting terrain as drug addiction, juvenile detention, rehabilitation centers, and state prison.  We moved to the suburbs when the baby arrived and, like typical parents, now eschew party nights for playdates.  Like many of our heterosexual counterparts, we struggle with mortgage and vehicle payments, preschool options, and work drama.  We are taxpayers who take our obligations seriously, taxpayers who, for all intents and purposes, do not even register on the federal radar as family. 

When I took the carefully considered leap of faith to work independently from home this past fall, our foremost concern centered around healthcare benefits.  As a legally untethered woman in an overwhelmingly conservative red state, our only option for Alina was a private insurance policy … expensive, yes, but worth it; after all, there is no price on your child’s health, right? But a couple months into the policy, it soon became painfully obvious that this policy (and those offered by its competitors) would not cover any ear infections or its related illnesses, treatments, prescriptions, or doctor visits.  Seems like, at two years old, she is already considered near-uninsurable because of her persistent “pre-existing” ear problems.  And, as luck would have it, winter and fall were particulary hard on her.  We presently have five pending claims with this company, and the coverage has since been terminated because we could not afford to continue paying full price for medical services, deductibles, *and* a hefty child-only policy premium.  Worst of all, her much-needed surgery had to be canceled because we cannot afford it; we just do not have $6,000.00 cash lying around.

Jackie’s small, family-owned job does not extend domestic partnership coverage, and neither are they obligated to do so.  Her formal second-parent adoption of Alina never occurred due to some unforeseen financial challenges with her son when I was pregnant.  So she has no official ties to our daughter aside from our own costly legal documents … that take effect only in the event that I am incapacitated or dead.  I’ve quietly listened to moms at the park or the pediatrician’s office complain about their husband’s family insurance coverage, and sometimes it is all I can do not to shout at them to be grateful that they can, by virtue of their sex, enjoy basic legal rights that Jackie and I and our daughter will (probably) never have.  And even as a legally single mother, I still am not eligible to receive state-sponsored care for my girl.  Seems like then, and only then, does Jackie’s presence in OUR home count for something.

 by Elisa Garcia

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