Access to partner health insurance benefits would change my life
Melissa (left), and Suzi with their children
This blog is part of Equality Virginia’s summer 2014 blog series on LGBT Virginians and access to insurance. Learn more about Equality Virginia’s work by signing up to receive our emails! Another great way to stay in touch is by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.
By Melissa Powell
Suzanne and I have been together for twelve years. During that time we have shared many experiences including raising two beautiful daughters, one dog, one cat; running marathons; renovating a home; attending more sporting events than I can count; celebrating our commitment for each other with a beautiful wedding; and now experiencing the shock and implications of a cancer diagnosis.
As with any couple, we have experienced our ups and downs but we are dedicated to maintaining a loving and supportive relationship and strong family for our children. To say that cancer has challenged our strength, patience, and faith is an understatement, but after fighting cancer for nearly a year here we stand – together.
I was diagnosed with cancer last year when I was 37 years old. Unfortunately, treatment took its toll on my physical strength and it became necessary for me to begin short-term disability this past spring. As part of my recovery, the recovery of our entire family, and to help ensure that the cancer will not return; we decided that I would reduce my work hours from full-time to part-time for at least the next year. Although this places a financial strain on our family, we strongly feel that this is an important step in this journey.
Suzi is employed by the state of Virginia. Secondary to current Virginia laws regarding partner rights I do not have access to Suzi’s health insurance even though she is my wife. This causes immense stress for a multitude of reasons. Suzi’s insurance is widely accepted and would have afforded me the choice to be treated at a top rated cancer facility that might have had more experience treating younger women with breast cancer. Suzi’s insurance is also extremely affordable and the coverage is extensive. In addition, I have recently lost my insurance through my employer because I had to reduce my work hours to part time; and because of my special needs it was recommended that I continue with an “extensive policy;” therefore; we are now paying over 500.00 per month for COBRA insurance.
At a time when I should be reducing my stress level and focusing on healing, I have been overwhelmed by the lack of insurance options and the mounting medical bills.
Equality Virginia is the leading statewide, non-partisan advocacy, outreach and education organization seeking equality for LGBT Virginians. EV believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally welcomed and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
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