Friday, April 06, 2007

Political Ramblings Part 2

We went to whirlpool therapy today, and I actually managed to avoid a low-blood-sugar crisis by recognizing the signs and asking for juice before I passed out.

The foot is looking better each day. One of the four major wounds is almost all closed up, and two of the others are on the way. The fourth one, at the base of my big toe, still looks pretty alarming, but is healing satisfactorily.

Back to political ramblings for a moment. I have excellent health insurance, which has paid for everything so far except some co-payments on prescriptions. Good thing, too, because this whole episode has got to be well into the thousands of dollars. Just one insulin prescription would have cost close to $400 without my insurance.

Thomas doesn't have health insurance through work, the way I do. He has said, "If things were the other way around, and if this was me, I'd just have to die. I couldn't afford to live."

Yes, the health insurance situation in this country is all screwed up. But that's not what I want to complain about right now. I want to be a little more specific.

Thomas and I have been together going on 25 years, and have lived together for 20. Despite that, Thomas is not eligible to be included on my health insurance. Why? Because only couples who are married can have that particular benefit.

Let me count the ways this is unfair. First, it violates the principle of "equal work, equal pay." One of my straight coworkers can marry his or her sweet baboo, and get health benefits worth untold sums -- but I can't marry my sweet baboo.

Second, it makes bad economic sense. If Thomas were to get badly sick and need the kind of expensive care I'm getting, who would pay for it? First, the two of us would go bankrupt. Ultimately, the burden would fall on everyone -- further driving up the costs of medical care and insurance.

Third, it's not fair because Thomas is playing by the rules of being a spouse, without getting the benefits. I am at home only because Thomas is able to devote considerable time and effort to caring for me. Without him, I would probably have to be in a nursing home. And you can be sure that would cost a hell of a lot more.

Mark that, please. Thomas is saving a lot of money for everyone: the insurance company, my employer, society at large. He's helping to keep down everybody's medical costs. And what reward does he get? Nothing except the self-satisfaction of helping his spouse. He certainly doesn't get health insurance benefits.

So how does this incredibly unfair situation get changed? Allowing same-sex couples to marry is the most obvious way. The issue is now before the Maryland Supreme Court, but there's no confidence that they will legalize same-sex marriage. If recent court rulings are any guide, the best we can hope for is that the court will acknowledge the unfairness and throw the issue to the legislature. (The worst we can hope for is that the Maryland Supreme Court will rule the same way as Washington state, that all this unfairness is justified because "marriage" is reserved to straight people.)

If the court does send the issue to the legislature, Maryland may well wind up with the same sort of Civil Unions system as Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and California. I assume that the enabling law would make civil union partners eligible for spousal health insurance benefits, so that Thomas would finally be included on my health insurance. But you can bet Don Dwyer and his ilk will fight that with everything they have.

There you are. If you live in Maryland, and if you would like Thomas to have a chance of surviving his next major illness...then please support our cause.


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