One Step (at least) Behind Arkansas. Arkansas!
That’s right, we here in North Carolina are behind Bubba’s home state in at least one way. We allow health insurers to treat domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. As in, a pre-existing condition that allows them to refuse to cover those who suffer from said malady. Sue Sturgis wrote about it on Facing South. Don’t worry, it gets worse. When a federal effort to eradicate the unseemly practice, allowed by just eight states and the District of Columbia, came up for a Senate committee vote in 2006, our own Sen. Richard Burr voted against it. He, apparently, thinks it’s fine for NC’s insurers to deny coverage to someone simply because they were abused.
Imagine for a moment that you are a young lady who married at 18 because your rigorous abstinence training failed you and you found yourself carrying your boyfriend’s child. Pastor and pater both recommend, in no uncertain terms, that you get married to your Bible-toting sweetheart. He’s willing, though you know he has no idea what marriage and parenthood means. You know he doesn’t because you know you don’t. But at least, as Donald Rumsfeld might say, you know you don’t know, whereas your beau don’t know he don’t know. So, you do what you’ve been told is the right thing, and marry the guy, sadly putting your college dreams on hold. A couple of sleepless years pass in a haze of dirty diapers, dirty dishes, and dirty laundry, and you realize that you don’t see beau around the house much anymore. He’s smacked you a few times when you’ve tried to talk about it, but that’s scary for the babies and you don’t have the energy for it too often. Still, you have to talk about money, about getting him to spend a little time with the kids, about giving you a chance to get out a little bit and maybe earn some money for yourself. You finally get through to him, with the bruises to prove it, and, when the kids start school, you get a decent job. Now you, a wise old 25-year-old, have some validation and some dosh and decide to kick your loser hubby to the curb. He’s not all that enamored of your plan and says so with his fists. Nevertheless, you stick to your proverbial guns, and eventually effect the divorce. The police and hospital records prove your claims of domestic violence, and you are finally free of the man you never should have married. Sure, you have two kids and lots of expenses, but you are on your way. Except for how you can’t get insurance because your employer is too small to offer it, and you are rejected when you try to get your own coverage because of your history of domestic violence. You know what a kick in the teeth is and this bears an uncanny resemblance!
How can this be legal? Why does this make any sense? Why do we allow this? Why would our senator vote against ending this barbaric practice? Who knows? That’s just our crap luck, I guess. This year, Arkansas passed its own law banning this kind of discrimination. Let’s hope we do the same if our dear Sen. Burr gets his way with health care reform. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of problems to deal with in that event, but we definitely shouldn’t go on treating victims this way.