'The lower the co-pay, the sexier you are'

WASHINGTON -- So difficult has it become for sick people to simply purchase health insurance today that one woman is offering to marry for it.

Insurance companies have been discriminating against customers for years on the basis of pre-existing conditions, but gained notoriety for these practices in 2009 during the health care reform debate. As it turns out, they aren't fazed.

45-year-old Terri Carlson is divorced and was born with a harrowing condition called C4 Complement Deficiency, which, she told CBS, "makes me unable to process bacteria and viruses efficiently and my body attacks itself. It's very similar to lupus."

Her health insurance is set to expire in a year and her illness has sent her premiums through the roof. As a result, Carlson created a Web site that reads at the top, in big bold letters, "Will Marry for Health Insurance!!"

"It is not easy living with my disease and now that I have the genetic answer for my health issues, every insurance company uses the information to deny me insurance coverage," she writes.

The Web site contains images of her and an invitation for a man with a solid health insurance plan -- that allows spouses to be tacked on -- to marry her.

In an interview with CBS, Carlson clarified, "The lower the co-pay, the sexier you are to me."

The fine print underneath her letter reads: "I know my site looks like a memorial and it will be unless I get health insurance, that's the point!"

The health care reform bills passed by Democrats in the House and Senate ban insurer discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. But it's now uncertain whether the sweeping reforms Congress spent much of 2009 working on will pass.

In the face of political obstacles, the New York Times reported last week that Democrats are considering scaling back the bill in a way that protects only those 19 and under from being denied coverage due to prior illnesses. Raw Story had the full report.

In response to Carlson's plight, Think Progress noted that "[i]n no other developed country would a woman feel like she was forced to marry someone, even if she didn’t love them, just to be able to get decent health care coverage."

This video is from CBS' The Early Show, broadcast Feb. 1, 2010, and was first highlighted by ThinkProgress.

Download video via RawReplay.com