"I Married for Health Insurance"

People may be getting married for health insurance.

ByABC News
July 15, 2008, 1:51 PM

July 17, 2008 — -- I confess. Despite the fact that my longtime beau and I haven't felt the need to say "I do," I've fantasized about getting hitched solely for the health insurance.

As a self-employed person, I spend thousands of dollars a year on insurance premiums, co-payments and other out-of-pocket health care costs. My boyfriend, on the other hand, works for a deep-pocketed megacorp that offersnot just the Cadillac of health benefits but the tricked-out stretch limo: No matter how many prescriptions he fills, doctors he sees or trips to the hospital he makes, it won't cost him a dime.

I wouldn't be the first working stiff to entertain the notion of exchanging nuptials to get better health coverage. In April, a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading health policy research group, found that in the past year 7 percent of U.S. adults married so one or the other could get on a partner's health insurance plan.

But just who are those 7 percent who promised to love, honor and, yes, even insure a significant other they may not have otherwise married just yet, if ever? What finally convinced them to take the connubial plunge? And what'stheir employment situation anyway? Let's take a look:

"I was missing all my teeth on my upper jaw," said Jeff Heisler, a 38-year-old hotel chef, about the condition of his kisser two months before the date he was scheduled to wed his then-fiance, Jennifer, a 35-year-old nurse.

A collision with the handle of a freezer door at work had left him with 17 broken, decaying teeth, a world of oral hurt and a stack of wedding engagement photos in which he hadn't cracked a smile. Jeff's job didn't offer dental insurance (ironically, he couldn't bite into half the dishes he'd been hired to cook). And the Westerville, Ohio, couple couldn't afford the $6,000 needed to extract Jeff's damaged teeth and buy him a full upper denture plate.

Their solution? The couple had a justice of the peace marry them 51 days early -- unbeknownst to their families -- so Jeff could get the dental insurance offered by Jennifer's hospital job.