Woman Rejects Boyfriend's Proposal Because She'd Lose Health Insurance & Childcare If She Married Him — Now She Wonders If She Made The Wrong Choice

No one should have to choose between their relationship and their healthcare and childcare.

woman confused and sad with her decision to decide proposal courtneyk, Ugur Karakoc, Liza Summer | Canva

The United States is unique among the world's wealthy nations for its bizarrely expensive healthcare and childcare systems, and it forces many of us to go to all kinds of extraordinary lengths to access these services — including turning down marriage proposals, it turns out.

That's the predicament one mom on Reddit found herself in, and it's a pretty stark commentary on how broken America's systems for some of the most basic needs really are.


The woman will lose her health insurance if she gets married, so she had to turn her boyfriend's proposal down.

We've all heard wild stories about declined marriage proposals, but this is certainly a unique one. The woman lives in the state of Massachusetts, where the law provides for divorced partners to continue accessing their former spouse's health insurance after the marriage is dissolved. 



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As she wrote in her Reddit post, the terms of her divorce also provide her with alimony payments for childcare for the rest of her life. "The judge ordered that since I stayed home to raise our 4 kids (21M, 19F, 18M, 16M) that I get alimony for life, or until I (only I, not my ex) remarried," she writes. 

That provision of divorce is because of a problem all too many American families face. "For the entire length of our marriage, part of the reason I didn't work is because my ex is a doctor and after doing calculations, we realized I'd never make enough to even get close to covering the childcare costs for 4 kids" — an exceedingly common problem for parents.



To offset the fact that she hasn't worked in ages and likely wouldn't be able to find an adequate job all these years later, the divorce grants her alimony for life — unless she gets married, that is.


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Her boyfriend wants to get serious, move in and get married. But if she does, she will lose all her financial benefits.

She writes that she and her boyfriend's relationship has been great all along, but after a recent pregnancy scare, things took a turn. "He said that if I get pregnant again, he wants us to be living under one roof, and not like two divorced parents," she writes. "So he proposed."

She was forced to make a decision she had no interest in making — to choose health insurance and alimony over the man she wants to make a life with. "I was upset, but had to turn it down because love aside, this was my health insurance and only source of income on the line."

Worse still, they can't even move in together — the outdated family laws in Massachusetts and many other states assumes that women moving in with men are being financially supported, and benefits are cut off as soon as they begin cohabitating. 


Dire though the situation is, her boyfriend is having trouble being understanding about it, despite the fact that getting married would put him in a financial predicament as well. "He is a case manager at a nonprofit and we'd be living on half the income I'm currently living on...that is bound to create tension on both sides," she writes. 

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America's for-profit healthcare system and lack of a social safety net have made problems like these very common.

If you live in America, this surely isn't surprising, but this Redditor is certainly not the only person depending on marriage so that she doesn't lose her health insurance.

Access to healthcare is so difficult in America, in fact, that a rising number of people are staying or getting married just for access to health insurance alone — a 2020 insurance industry survey found 26% of marriages that year were because one or more parties needed access to their partner's health insurance.


And with health insurance premiums constantly skyrocketing — a 2022 study revealed individual yearly premiums rose a staggering 58%, from $5,049 to $7,911, between 2010 and 2022 — that it's not only forcing people to get married, it's also fueling a wave of people moving abroad, especially retirees. 



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And as for childcare costs? Well, it's certainly not news that that's killing American families too. A 2023 Harris poll revealed that more than a third of stay-at-home parents said they left their jobs because childcare was too expensive, with 36% saying they felt they had no other choice.


America is of course the only wealthy country on earth without some form of universal childcare, which is particularly galling since we used to have it too — when it benefited our war efforts. But once World War II was over, our childcare system was quickly dismantled.

It might be controversial in some circles to say, but having to choose between working or childcare, being able to get married or being able to go to the doctor, isn't freedom. And since no other wealthy country on Earth forces its citizens to make these decisions, it might be time to wake up to the fact that when it comes to "American exceptionalism," we're exceptional for some really bad reasons.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.