Christine Ferris is searching online for that special someone. "I would like to meet a man who can relax and enjoy the woods, the fog, the sea, the mountains," says her profile on dating site True.com. "Someone who can feel the wonder of nature. I am a romantic and you are, too."
Also, her ideal man should "have health insurance and use it."
Health insurance is expensive, complex and bureaucratic. These days, it's also sexy. Right up there with washboard abs, a steady job and a fun-loving personality, health coverage is emerging as a hot selling point among online daters. It's especially the case among suitors of a certain age who need, and prize, good benefits the most.
Those who have it sometimes flaunt it as an asset, a sign to potential mates that they are serious, professional and grounded. Others troll for partners with blue-chip policies because they need coverage themselves, or want evidence — short of asking for a credit report — that a prospect isn't a slacker.
"I don't have time to waste," explains Ferris, a 45-year-old teacher from Sebastian, Fla. "If you care about yourself, then you're going to tend to care about other people, as well."
Lisa Dunbar, a 49-year-old legal secretary, recently posted her prescription for romantic suitors on Craigslist's Los Angeles site. "Are you strong, smart and sophisticated, confident and kind, without being too uppity or conceited? Do you make at least $75,000 a year and have health insurance?"
Dunbar says several years ago, when she was uninsured, she ended up in the hospital for hand surgery and had to rely on public assistance to cover most of the bills. The experience prompted her to change jobs to get health coverage. Now, she expects a mate with similar priorities — one who comes bearing his own deductible and co-pays. "I want somebody to be as together as I am," she says.
Medical coverage used to be a perk that many people took for granted. But at a time when insurance rates are soaring, and an aging work force has seen its benefits slashed, folks on the dating scene are learning that a good plan is hard to find.
It's not just women who are on a health insurance kick. "I'm looking for a woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to ask for it," says Dan Schmedeman's profile on Yahoo Personals. "One with a nice smile and a healthy attitude, that can be open and honest. … A flat stomach and health insurance plan wouldn't hurt, either."
Schmedeman, a 50-year-old independent home builder from Castle Rock, Colo., says he pays about $350 a month for high-deductible insurance, money he figures he'd save if he could join somebody's employer-sponsored plan. "I was kind of halfway joking — but not really," he says.
In a Los Angeles Craigslist posting, fraud investigator Joe Johnson recently tempted "[.]y single moms" by pointing out that he "can supply all the little things like health insurance and the big things like a nice place to live, etc."
He got the idea for the ad after going out with a woman who asked him, point blank, whether she'd qualify for benefits if they ultimately married. "I said, 'Well, if that ever happened, of course, that's easy. You'd be covered immediately.' "
That relationship fizzled, but the personal ad that followed, featuring his insurance plan, drew dozens of responses — among the most he has ever received. Johnson, 56, says he went on a few dates, including one with a pregnant woman who didn't have coverage.
Finally, medical coverage has become such an elixir that some love-lorn types are moved to express themselves in verse. One Craigslist poster in St. Louis wrote:
"I want you to take me into your big strong... health insurance plan …
"Our intense feelings... become 100 percent fully vested in only 90 days …
"Let's drink some wine by a fire... and talk about mini vans …."
Online dating update is prepared by Sarah Rubenstein and brought to you by datingservices-online.net