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Single People: Your Loved Ones Matter Less October 30, 2011

Posted by Onely in As If!.
Tags: , , , , , ,

The disaster scenarios described below are provided merely to make a point about the over-privileging of marriage. They do not in any way represent a thumbing-of-the-nose at fate and were written while knocking fervently on wood–well, on laminate at least.

Copious Readers, who should have long term care (LTC) insurance? Who qualifies?

Last Saturday night I considered these question. As I curled on the couch with a cup of tea and some LTC brochures, I imagined any number of extreme mishaps that might render me unable to “perform, without Substantial Assistance, at least two Activites of Daily Living. . . Bathing, Continence, Dressing, Eating, Toileting, and Transferring”. (You’ll be shocked to hear that in high school I was not voted Most Likely to Party Like a Rock Star.)

My company is offering a special deal on LTC coverage through Prudential–no medical history required. I’m only twenty-six (seeing as the thirties are the new twenties), but I’m old enough to know that sh&t happens. For example, last winter  I braked for a sudden backup on I-66(6), and although I had allowed enough stopping distance for just such instances, the cretin in the S.U.V. behind me had not. As I watched his headlights bear down on my rearview I thought, “It seems some sh&t is about to happen right now.” Fortunately he swerved onto the shoulder and stopped right beside me, instead of on top of me. Crisis averted, but I still need long-term care coverage because all his small-appendaged, speed-compensating friends remain out there, waiting for me.

Or maybe, I thought as I sipped my De-Stress tea, they are up in Michigan, waiting for my parents. Fortunately, the LTC literature said I could get my mom and dad the same LTC policy too. Reading further, I thought I’d better sign my sister up for the same policy as well, in case she goes jogging and encounters a particularly peckish cougar. Now on a roll, I decided I should also get the policy for my intrepid international-travelling co-blogger Lisa. At any moment she might fall off one of those Roman pillars on which she is so fond of perching.

Except, oh, just one moment here, let me squint closer at the fine print–turns out I can’t get Lisa a plan, because she’s not my parent, or grandparent, or sibling, or child.

As I said in a previous post about bereavement leave, these (arbitrary) requirements privilege the nuclear family and devalue other types of families and relationships. Prudential and other providers (for Prudential is not the only offender) should allow an employee to select a certain number of people to be covered. That way, I could choose to allow Lisa to piggyback off my plan instead of my grandparents, who are already in the longest-term care facility of them all.

It gets worse. Although my married colleagues are also pigeonholed in the nuclear-family paradigm, they have twice as many options as I and my single colleagues do, because marrieds can choose to enroll the following people:

A Spouse

A Parent-in-law

A Grandparent-in-law

A Spouse of Adult Child

This is worth recapping in italics: A married person can enroll her husband’s grandparents in her insurance policy, but I can’t enroll a close friend. May I ask who among our Copious Readers is closer to their husband’s grandparents than to their co-bloggers? (And if you feel offended at my inference that you can’t possibly be as close to your spouse’s grandparents as to a good friend, then you have just made my point for me.)

But wait! Reading further, I see there’s still hope for Lisa! I can add her on my plan as my Domestic Partner.  Prudential, imaging themselves very progressive I’m sure, includes in their list of eligible applicants the employee’s “Domestic Partner (same sex only)”. Perfect! Lisa and I are, indeed, of the same sex. All she needs to do is move to my house in Northern Virginia from Beirut (and after she just moved there too, shame) and pretend that we’re having sex regularly.

Hm. I’m guessing she probably would prefer to scrounge up her own LTC insurance (or at least avoid climbing pillars).


P.S. The photo is (supposedly) of the world’s largest swimming pool. It’s not much related to heteronormativity and long term care, but it is nice to look at. 

Photo credit: livingitfine


1. Stella - October 30, 2011

Well, that’s great. Good job I’m not gonna get LTC coverage, coz half my family are like strangers too me (the other half are worth their weight in gold fortunately) and I have a lovely single girlfriend who I’d add the my policy. . . but now I won’t bother as it’s not allowed.
OK, all tongue-in-cheekness aside. . . pfttt. . . who makes up these policies. . .. your grandparents-in-law? Really?

2. Bella DePaulo - October 31, 2011

This is such a great post, Christina! And I found it using the new http://www.SingleWithAttitude.com site. I tried to “like” this post but it didn’t like my log in info so now I’ll try again, having used FB login.

3. Bella DePaulo - October 31, 2011

Nope, still won’t let me “Like” it. I’ll share it on FB.

Onely - October 31, 2011

Thanks Bella. That’s really odd that it’s not letting you like it. I will have some people try to like it to make sure it’s not a global problem. . . I’ll let you know if it’s not a global problem.
= )

4. Onely - October 31, 2011

Ok well it let *me* like it, but I’ll ask some other guinea pigs to try just in case I’m “special”. = )

5. singlutionary - November 20, 2011

It is a good battle that we’re fighting to have “other” relationships acknowledged by our culture and by our culture’s policies. Since I don’t have any grown-up-side-by-side-biological siblings, I’ve adopted one. My sister is my sister. We watch our for each other more than most “real” siblings do but our relationship is not valid to any outside perspective. Sometimes individuals get really frustrated and refuse to use the word “sister” and instead say things like “that girl you call your sister”.

Judith Butler proposes using the word “kinship” (I think it is Judith Butler and I think that is the right word). And I love that idea. Kinship between co-bloggers is not only existent — it is a vital part of those co-bloggers every day life.

Also, the definition of “domestic partner” as being limited to same-sex only is quite offensive. What about transgendered individuals? What about straight couples who are partnered but not married.

If we could evaluate who is important in our lives based on kinship instead of on some strange set of blood and sex and marriage ties we would all be a lot better off. And a lot more honest.

6. Single’s Movement Has a Slogan! « Onely: Single and Happy - February 20, 2012

[…] companies or governments think of themselves as all progressive for providing some domestic partner benefits, but in doing so they’re just feeding back into the whole overdone trope of […]

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