A dear friend’s parents have been married for nearly 50 years, but now are considering divorce in order to keep healthcare benefits. Is this status quo really worthy of protecting, as some opponents of healthcare reform advocate?
About 2 months ago Mrs. Jones (name changed at her request) had a sudden, massive stroke. Her brain swelled 15cm, while her doctors prepared her family for the worst. But Mrs. Jones survived the first three critical days. When she regained consciousness, she lost all feeling in and control of her left side. She can’t walk, sit or swallow. It could be 6 months of intensive phsycal therapy before she can take a drink of water.
Mr. Jones retired from a job in aerospace years ago with a full pension and benefits. His insurance will cover 120 days of rehab for his wife. Then Medicare will kick in, since Mrs. Jones is in her 70’s, and cover an additional 65 day of rehab. Each day costs about $2,000 for care and therapy.
But when Mrs. Jones’ doctors and therapists met last week to establish treatment goals, the most they hope to achieve is swallowing within 6 months. By the time her insurance runs out, Mrs. Jones will be lucky to be able to sit up by herself. The rest of the care will have to be paid out-of-pocket, which would bankrupt Mr. Jones in the midst of his retirement.
The couples’ attorney recently suggested the couple divorce to protect assests and allow her to qualify for Medicaid.
Is this really the heathcare system we want?