How do we handle health insurance and other legal/financial issues as a polyamorous household?

My husband and I are married. We want to add our third to our insurance and things like that but what is the best way to make sure she is covered? Can she be covered?

For multipartner households, things like child custody, health insurance, hospital visitation, join finances, etc. can be challenging. If you feel comfortable, try checking to see if your employer has a program that lets you ask legal and financial questions of a professional - most large companies have these. Your health insurance company may also have a contact line where you can ask questions like this.

Some polyamorous families create LLCs or other types of 'business' organizations to manage insurance and finances. I personally can't give much info about this, since I've never done it; I do all my insurance, taxes, etc. as a 'single' person. Hiring a lawyer or accountant to help you get this all sorted out could really be worth it!

Here are some resources about polyamory and legal/financial issues:

I don't know how to tell my doctor that I've opened my marriage

I'm married and poly. My husband and I recently opened up our relationship, and I've started seeing someone. My actual concern is that I have my yearly checkup this month, and I'm not sure how to bring it up with my doctor. I know it's really important information to share with them, but I'm honestly a little nervous about bringing it up because I don't know how they'll respond. I made a mention to one of the nurses once a couple of years ago while discussing birth control that I might have sex with someone other than my husband in the future because I'm not mono, and she looked at me like I had two heads. I have a pretty hard time articulating what I want to say when I go to the doctor already, but this is something totally new for me. Do you have any advice on how to approach the subject?

It’s not necessarily critical that your doctor have all this information - they just need to know what’s relevant to your health, especially your sexual health. If you ask for an STI screening and they say “oh, that isn’t recommended/necessary for people who are married,” you can say that your circumstances are unique and leave it at that.

If you want to tell them, it’s fine to just be blunt and matter-of-fact: “I’d like to update my ‘sexual history’ since I filled out my patient forms. My husband and I have opened our relationship, and I now have multiple sexual partners, who may themselves have multiple sexual partners. We use [protection method]. I just wanted to make sure you knew that so we can discuss my health in an accurate context.”

If you’re worried, you can print something out or write something down to bring to your appointment. You can also email your doctor or call their office ahead of time if that makes you more comfortable. Check out this article about how to talk to your doctor about polyamory for some extra resources. And if you have health concerns that you really need to address in a context of safety and knowledge around polyamory, check out the poly friendly professionals index of healthcare providers.

Been with my fiance for 6 years. My best friend moved in with us and slowly we both realized we were seriously in love with her. She realized she loved us and a polyamorous relationship was born. There was a lot of talking beforehand, figuring out what we’re comfortable with and whatnot and it’s working really well. I am incredibly in love with her and my fiance… here’s the problem… I still want to be able to marry my fiance. But my girlfriend has a ton of health issues and it has kind of been decided whoever gets better insurance (from a full-time job) will marry her. The hard thing for me is my family has been waiting for us to get married for so long and I want that marriage but I want her to have good health insurance. If polygamy was legal there would be no problems but since it’s not… there is… for me anyway. I still want that marriage to him for my family for me, I’ve been planning it for years… maybe I’m being selfish?

This story just breaks my heart. It’s unfortunate that not only has plural marriage not become a human rights issue just like gay marriage, but the fight for gay marriage is actually pushing our cause backwards. I am so sorry to hear that the three of you can’t legally be married the way that works best for you emotionally and financially. You are not being selfish - it’s reasonable to want the wedding you’ve been planning for so long! Don’t beat yourself up over this. The enemy is external - it’s bigotry and legal snarls - not internal. You three have found something beautiful and fulfilling, so hold onto it no matter what the system says.

My advice would be to bring in some professionals on this. Talk to a lawyer who specializes in LGBTQ rights or other “non-traditional” marital and financial arrangements. Find out what your options are and get some paperwork and precedent on your side. Talk to a lawyer or another professional who is an expert in the healthcare field about what your girlfriend’s options may be regarding health insurance. You might not know what all the possibilities are, or you might not have the know-how to make them happen. Who knows - your girlfriend could find a way to get healthcare coverage without needing to be married to either of you. Maybe the three of you could all contribute to a pooled fund to help pay for her coverage. Maybe she is eligible for a plan you haven’t heard of. There’s a lot changing in terms of health insurance over the next few years, and I think it would be best if you three found someone to help you navigate the bureaucratic maze to find your best option. Build yourself a small army of doctors, lawyers, and other people who can help you three stay safe, healthy and sane. Know your rights and your options and document your decisions well. Know what could get you in legal trouble and how to avoid it, and who to call if you need help. It could get a little pricey speaking to all these lawyers and insurance professionals, but consider it an investment in your future together as a safe, healthy triad.

Once you’ve done that, you might find that you have a better array of decisions to make. You could hold a non-legally-binding ceremony for you and your fiance, or with all three of you (you’ll want to know the legal ramifications of this beforehand, though - talk to a lawyer in your state.) You could marry your fiance after finding another way to take care of your girlfriend’s health insurance. You could all move to another country where the marriage and healthcare laws are less frustrating (that’s a little drastic, though.) But no matter what you do, don’t sacrifice your happiness for the sake of money or legalized bigotry. Thousands of couples have come before you - gay couples who jumped through tons of legal hoops in order to adopt, divorced parents who shared custody before that was normalized, partners of people with health issues who must learn to navigate the healthcare system - and there are professionals out there who can help you carve out a place to be happy as well.

I don’t know what state you’re in, so I can’t give any specific resources, but you could start with these directories and organizations:

  • Poly Friendly Professionals this is the number one directory of lawyers, doctors and other professionals who are poly friendly. 
  • Alternatives to Marriage (linked to their healthcare page) This is more of an advocacy organization trying to help solve your problem once and for all, but they can probably connect you with lawyers and other advocates who know their way around the legal and healthcare systems.
  • PolyFamilies suggests that a poly family open a business together to deal with the health insurance issue