Married Parents Considering Divorce So They Can Afford Daughter's Health Care Costs

by Cassandra Stone
Image via WFAA

Maria and Jake Grey are hoping a divorce will mean Medicaid coverage for their daughter

God bless America — where happily married couples are forced to contemplate divorce in order to qualify for more affordable health care for their daughter. Yes, you read that correctly. And this family’s story is as frustrating as it is heartbreaking.

Jake and Maria Grey are the happily married parents of daughters Brighton and Fairen. Brighton, who is six, was born with a rare genetic disorder, Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Which means she’s still a newborn, developmentally speaking. She also requires round-the-clock medical care, which means the Greys are dealing with skyrocketing health care costs — to the tune of $15,000 out-of-pocket annually.

So even though they’ve been married for nine years, they’re considering a divorce. The Greys tell Today it’s the only way their daughter can qualify for Medicaid to get the care she needs — and the care they can actually afford.

“We shouldn’t have to make that sacrifice to get our child Medicaid,” Maria says. Her husband Jake is an Army veteran, and while the family has private health insurance, it still leaves them with astronomical bills.

“It’s drowning us to try to keep up with her medical expenses,” he said. “We’ve done everything we can do to try to keep her afloat, and we’re going to reach a point where we can’t do it and we won’t have another option. We don’t know what to do.”

Because in America, apparently you can be happily married and maintain a solid family unit, or you can have solid healthcare. But you definitely can’t have both — greatest country in the world, huh? Jake currently makes $40,000 per year, which is “too much” for Brighton to qualify for the Medicaid coverage she and her family desperately need. If the Greys divorce, however, Maria (who is currently a full-time mom) would be considered a single, unemployed mother and would then be able to qualify for the coverage.

It’s utter bullshit that this is the reality for a family with a child who has special needs. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing that the U.S. is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and we refuse to provide adequate healthcare for the people living here. Which is probably why GoFundMe is basically now just a health care website because no one can afford their medical bills. Speaking of which, Maria tells Today she wants no part of that.

“I need the state to step up and give us the benefits that we need,” she says.

The Greys decided to go public with their ordeal because there are plenty of other families facing similar, heartbreaking situations. And because as parents everywhere can understand — they’ll do anything for their kids. Even if it means getting a divorce, Maria tells WFAA News.

“We promised to each other and to her that we’d do whatever we could do to make her life, however long she’s going to be with us, as good as possible.”