Would You Marry A Friend To Save Their Life?

Not exactly a hypothetical situation, but not an option I am currently considering.

One of my best friends is a man in his mid 50’s, I am 39. We dated for a couple of years about 10 years ago, but since then have just been very good friends. I talk to him at least once a day on the phone, and we get together every week or so to do things. He’s the one I call if my car’s broke down on the side of the road. I love him, and completely accept him for who he is, and he does the same for me.

A few weeks ago, he went to his PCP for what he thought was a hiatal hernia. The doctor is concerned about esophageal cancer, but doesn’t want to investigate it yet because my friend doesn’t have health insurance. If he were to get health insurance before tests are done, which the doctor strongly recommends, then it will not already be established that he has cancer, and therefore the treatments will be covered.

So my friend started checking into individual health insurance, and it would be rather expensive for him. I, on the other hand, have very cheap good health insurance from my employer and could add a spouse for not much more.

For right now, I don’t consider this a viable option for me, as I don’t really want to be married to someone I love but am not in love with. If the situation were to get dire I might consider it. So I’m not asking for advice, although I’m sure some of you will be more than willing to try to give it- I’m really just curious as to what other people would do in this situation.

I realize this isn’t an answer to your question, but before I considered marriage in that way I would check with my insurance to see how well it does cover cancer. Would it raise your rates? Would they drop you like a hot potato and shuffle you off to some other carrier?

I would not call them to ask — instead, check your pamphlets and brochures and contract, if any.


It’s not exactly to save his life, is it? I mean, all lifesaving procedures will be done regardless of his ability to pay, he just might be in debt for a long, long time, or have to take indigent charity, and possibly not get the very latest experimental treatments. But he’ll get “standard of care” treatments regardless. (All not good things, and one of the reasons I’m still whining to my legislators about Universal Health Care.) So no, I wouldn’t marry a friend to commit insurance fraud, no.

Although whether or not the insurance company would know or care if I had a romantic sexual relationship with my new spouse is a valid question. The “care” part, anyway. I suppose if I called my insurance rep and told them what was up and they said they didn’t care, as long as we had a marriage certificate, then I’d do it. If it isn’t considered fraud, I’d do it.

But more hypothetically? Sure. If The Dragon on the Mountain would eat the man unless I married him, I’d marry him. Heck, I might even come to love him in time, which would be a bonus.

Like WhyNot, I don’t see this situation as exactly saving his life.

If my friend was unable to work to afford the health insurance, I would likely sell something of mine of value so he could afford it. If needed I would take on extra work so I could help him pay for it. I would help him with the never ending research on insurance plans and what would be best for him. I would try to find affordable treatments for him. Set up fundraisers, ask my friends for things they don’t need that I might sell on Ebay. I would get very creative and find a way to help him pay for his needed insurance.

I would see this as a friend needing money for his own insurance. Possibly needing money if it turns out to be serious and he can no longer work and will need help paying his bills.

I wouldn’t see this as a reason I had to marry him. I would worry that as soon as I did that, I would meet the person of my dreams and then be resentful of the situation.

If this friend was female, and marrying was not an option, what could you do for her? Of if it was a member of your family? I think you can find ways to help your friend without having to marry him.

Have you checked to see if your health insurance requires that you be married ,or will common law do.


No. My husband hates it when I talk about marrying other people.

But if I were single? I might think about it.

Do it.

You’re not marrying him because you’re in love him, but you’re marrying him despite the fact that you’re not in love with him, precisely because you love him. And that’s a pretty cool thing to do.

That’s what friends are for. You can always get divorced later, and it sounds like neither party is going to stiff the other with regards to money or property.

Would he do it for you?

Insurance companies are faceless entities, and I don’t have much reverence for the institution of marriage, but I still could not commit what I consider fraud against both to “save” my friend. It sounds cold, but ultimately, his health care costs aren’t enough of my problem that I’d be compelled to do it.

If I really wanted to help him, I’d give him my savings, sell my possessions and give him the money, or organize fundraising efforts. There are more options than “violate my ethics” and “do nothing”.

It’s also possible that your insurance would want to have a health evaluation of your spouse, or even if they don’t, that might not be covered under pre-existing conditions clauses.

I’d make sure he’d be covered before doing anything as serious as marrying someone.

As the OP, I’m pretty sure that even under dire circumstances, I would never do it. I can’t say that I’m totally sure, because faced with his death, who knows? But musing on the situation and the possibilities just got me curious on what people would do for their friends.

It sounds like you don’t need advice about checking with your insurance so I’ll actually answer your question.

If it was a situation where someone had a gun to my friend’s head and it was “Marry him or he dies”? Or say if by marrying him I could get a Jewish friend papers out of 1939 Warsaw? Yup I would do it.

I wouldn’t marry someone just to get them a reduced rate for the cost of health care. But maybe I would if they needed health care only available in the US and needed to establish residency (Yes I know it ain’t that simple to pull one over on the INS).

Problem is without foresight, it can be hard to tell what will truly save a life. Maybe I saved my husband’s life by marrying him because after he met me he quit slutting around and never contracted AIDS. :smiley: Maybe because he married me, he moved to this crappy small town and didn’t get hit by a bus in Big City.

Overall though – especially because marriage isn’t necessarily for the rest of your life any more – if it clearly would directly save someone’s life, I probably would do it.

Why are people talking about fraud? The OP proposes getting legally married, which changes both their standings legitimately in the eyes of insurers and the law. How is this a fraud?

But I agree this does not sound like a life-and-death choice for reasons others have posted.

If the dragon on the mount created a similar dilemma for me, I think I’d do it - but it’s weird, because he has created it, probably, in the case of people who aren’t my friends yet. There are untold millions of poor who die yearly from minor infectious diseases etc, and I’d stand a fair chance of saving one of them with such a move. This might be one of those situations that logic doesn’t explain much about.

Sure me and my best friend considered marriage to cover her and her son with health insurance. Gay marriage didn’t exist for me so I couldn’t a marriage I cared about anyway. Neither of them needed insurance to cover anything in particular. It just would have saved money.

Can you add him to your insurance as a dependant? I know with our insurance we did not have to be married, just living under the same roof for a specified period of time. However, what I suggest requires alittle … hmm how should I say… dicey linguistics.

A few thoughts.

First of all, the insurance company is probably wise to such things, and have clauses in the policy to avoid them. You may find that it doesn’t cover a pre-existing condition.

Then, you are considering making a false representation. You would ber falsely representing yourself as wanting to marry him for love. You’re actually doing it with the intent of getting something free from them. I could see hoiw that might actually be criminal fraud. I’d certainly consult a lawyer before doing any such thing.

Then again, what if it’s a false alarm? You’re then stuck in a loveless marriage withg no advantage to either one of you.

What are you intending to do, anyway? Sell both your homes and move in to a new place together? Him move into your place? you move into his place? Then in a couple of years you’d presumably want to end it, you gotta pay for a divorce. Still expensive, even with an amicable split.

All in all, I think that a marriage for the wrong reasons would just create more problems for you than it will solve. Best not.

This is the part I’m not clear about. Is it, in fact, illegal to marry someone you don’t love? There was nothing on the form we had to fill out for our marriage license stating that “I do swear and affirm that I love the person named on line 2” or anything of that sort.

Yes, to my layperson self, it FEELS like it would be wrong and fraudulent to marry someone you don’t love so they can be put on your insurance, but I’m not sure that that is legally the case.

Let me ask you this: you meet a person of the gender of your sexual preference which is legal for you to marry in your state. You date, you fall in love, and then the person’s doctor suspects esophageal cancer, but counsels putting off any tests until s/he secures medical insurance. Would you consider it unethical or illegal to marry this person that you love if your employer’s policy is cheaper or better coverage than s/he could buy on his/her own? What if you’re already engaged, and you simply move the date of the wedding up?

I’m just not sure if the law or the insurance company cares about “love”.

Just make sure you start making plans for the divorce before you even start thinking about marrying him. I don’t know how well you know this guy, but it sounds like a good way to lose a good chunk of your stuff to a crafty divorce lawyer.

Also arrange for the possibility of this guy dying. What will you lose? What can you earn? Heck, esopahgeal cancer sounds like a sure way to make a million or two with life insurance on him (oh, and please nobody be outraged at this, if it is ok to create this situation for his benefit, why not for hers? This is business).

At any rate, good luck with this. Your intentions might be good, and it might not be fraud in the most technical of perspectives, but you know you are entering muddy waters.

Check if your insurance company allows for domestic partners. You do not need to be a same sex couple to be domestic partners. You just need to live together and share the bills. Well, you also have to state you are in a committed relationship with each other but you won’t actually have to be married.

See here for some general info:

When my girlfriend (now wife) moved in with me I checked with my insurance at work just to see what my options were. I read the definition of a domestic partner and thought it applied so I called up our benefits dept and confirmed that yes, I could add my girlfriend. I don’t recall even having to prove anything. They basically just took my word for it. Came as a nice surprise.

I’m sure that people get married every day for reasons other than love. If a couple finds themselves pregnant and get married so that she’ll have insurance in time for the birth, is that unethical? Maybe, but I personally know people that have done it. If they get married for companionship more than true love, should they notify the health insurance of that? Pre-existing conditions don’t come into play with group health insurance, as far as I know.

As for how well I know this man, believe me, I know him as well as I know my own children. I know him 100 percent and he knows me better than I know myself.

He says that if we got married he’d kill me within a year. He says that because I’m always commenting on how so many husbands kill their wives instead of seeking divorces, and he’s joking. I think. Yeah, he’s kidding. Not the killing type.

Sometimes I think that maybe I should go ahead and marry him, health problems aside. Where else you gonna find someone you’ve known forever, feel entirely comfortable with, who accepts you for who you are, who loves you when you have no makeup on, your legs are hairy, your hair is a mess… but that’s another subject altogether.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! hold it right there.

Are you telling me that there is a romantic substory to this whole thing? That the embers are still alight after all these years? You really are wading in muddy waters now. Make sure you are only marrying for insurance purposes, or if not, make sure all the cards are on the table.

Random scenario number 37: A year goes by, he did have cancer, therapy is under way. He falls in love with the therapist. You fall in love with him. Can’t dump him, can’t keep him.

Think this one through.