Would You Destroy Your Marriage To Save Your Spouse

Critics worry health care reform would undermine basic American family values. Talk to some and you find they believe emerging death panels ready to put Grandma away.

Peel back the emotions and irrational fear mongering and the facts become apparent. The existing system unnecessarily takes lives and tears families apart.

Rich and Wanda

Rich and Wanda Gram married 8 years ago. Now, the parents of two daughters, are divorcing. Young parents who have reached the breaking point isn’t news.

The reason behind the Gram’s pending divorce is news. And it’s a sign of the times America is in.

Their daughters 3-year-old Terry and 5-year-old Alicia, were both born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Developmentally still a newborn, Alicia needs 24-hour care and attention.

“She will never be able to be on her own,” Wanda said speaking of Alicia. “She requires round-the-clock care.”

The Grams have tried to get Medicaid to help with medical costs but Rich earns too much. The Grams applied for state help, but don’t hold out much hope because of where they are on the list.

“We’re number 59,844,” Wanda said.

The couple is looking at divorce as an option.

“Most people will try anything when it comes to their child,” Wanda said.

That’s the reason the couple is considering divorce. A divorce would allow Wanda to become a single, unemployed mother and then she would qualify for Medicaid.

“We should have to take that step to get our child Medicaid,” Wanda told reporters recently.

Rich, a Navy veteran, said the family has private health insurance, yet they still spend over $15,000 each year — out of pocket.

The couple have heard of other families in the same dilemma.

Let’s Call Her ‘M’

She doesn’t want her name used, so we’ll call her M. Twelve-months ago she reached a decision which is still tearing her heart.

She was married to a sweet man whom she loved. When he became increasingly absent-minded he was eventually diagnosed with early onset dementia. He faces the possibility of institutionalization as his medical needs grow.

Seeking solutions, she spoke with a social worker who outlined the dementia and the financial toll. She then told M, “Maybe you should divorce.”

“I was blown away,” M said. Once the financial toll hit, M would be left without their combined assets, money set aside for the children’s future would be gone. Their 401(k) would evaporate. M faced a bleak retirement and wouldn’t have her husband or her savings.

She divorced the man she loves. She still lives with him and cares for him. She looks for the day when authorities come after her because she didn’t divorce because of irreconcilable differences.

She divorced because of irreconcilable medical bills.

Spend Down

In New York the Medicaid rules are more liberal than in most states. It is possible to spend down — give to Medicaid — any income over $700 per month. However, the state still reserves the right to sue for the cost of long term care.

Long-term care is a difficult and expensive challenge for the best of health systems. America’s healthcare system is patches quilted together and full of gaps through which people fall. Medical expenses — of all kinds — are forcing couples to consider bankruptcy or divorce. Neither is a pleasant solution.

62% of American bankruptcies are driven by medical bills according to a survey reported in the American Journal of Medicine. That reflects a 50% increase in six years. Seventy-eight percent of those had health insurance, but the gaps and shortcomings left them unprotected when hit with devastating bills.

The Takeaway

Couples seeking divorce as a remedy to the lack of health coverage aren’t looking for money or donations. They don’t want a GoFundMe. They need the state to step up and provided the needed benefits.

Until that happens nothing will change and there will be more stories like these.

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