Chuck added me to his employer-sponsored health plan at the start of 2019. In order to add me to his employer-sponsored plan, we need to verify that we are, in fact, married. To prove that fact, we need more than a wedding ring or an album of pictures. We need the official, certified marriage certificate. Easy? Well, not exactly. Read on.
We thought we had a copy in the house with our other important documents. We don’t. There may be a copy in our safe deposit box at the credit union, but we’re not venturing out in Snowstorm Destiny (local name) unless we have to brave the roads. We searched online and found the information for ordering a copy (or two) by mail. We gathered what we needed, and Chuck dropped it off in a mailbox on his way to work.
You see, friends, we were not married in the same county in which we live. We were married in the state of Wisconsin, but not exactly where we now reside. We tied the knot in a county about 35 miles north of here. If ordering by mail doesn’t work or takes too long, one of us will need to take a day off from our job to make the road trip during business hours. It would be an inconvenience (read: Royal Pain), but we could do it.
I keep thinking of those for whom this would be more difficult, even darn near impossible. We have the spare change to put gas in the minivan and head north to visit the register of deeds’ office in the county known as Packerland. We resent taking time from our jobs, but we have the option of using a paid day off for this errand. Not all working people have that option. Not all have reliable transportation, either, especially in a Wisconsin winter.
This is a pain for us. It’s a bother. The situation is awkward and potentially a waste of a personal day for one or both of us. However, we can do it. We will do it. What about those who can’t? What if we’d gotten married in another state? What if we’d moved to a location farther away or, unlikely but not impossible, to Nova Scotia, where Chuck has extended family? How do people cope with a records request like this when they don’t have the options we have?
That’s a long list of what-ifs. In our world, many people fit the what-if categories. And that’s just for health insurance. We won’t talk about voter I.D. At least I won’t bring it up today.
We had a similar discussion two years ago when D’s drivers license had expired (by one day) and he had to get home for an alternate form of ID–a passport. And we thought, 1. we have the alternate form of ID which wasn’t cheap to obtain 2. we had a car to go get it 3. we had time to go get it.
Our country requires more money and time spent in ways that have little benefit. Cut red tape and we’d have so many opportunities to be productive in useful ways!