It was only last February that Brandy Brady met Ricky Huggins at a Mardi Gras ball here. By April, they had decided to marry.
Ms. Brady says she loves Mr. Huggins, but she worries they are moving too fast. She questions how well they really know each other, and wants to better understand his mood swings.
But Ms. Brady, 38, also finds much to admire in Mr. Huggins, who is three years older. He strikes her as trustworthy and caring. He has a stable job as a plumber and a two-bedroom house. And perhaps above all, said Ms. Brady, who received a kidney transplant last year, “He’s got great insurance.”
More than romance, the couple readily acknowledge, it is Mr. Huggins’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield HMO policy that is driving their rush to the altar.
In a country where insurance is out of reach for many, it is not uncommon for couples to marry, or even to divorce, at least partly so one spouse can obtain or maintain health coverage.
There is no way to know how often it happens, but lawyers and patient advocacy groups say they see cases regularly.
In a poll conducted this spring by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research group, 7 percent of adults said someone in their household had married in the past year to gain access to insurance. The foundation cautions that the number should not be taken literally, but rather as an intriguing indicator that some Americans “are making major life decisions on the basis of health care concerns.”