In episode 604, TOW Joey Loses His Insurance, several things happen: Joey works to get back his health insurance, even though he has a hernia; Ross lectures at NYU with a fake accent; Rachel packs up to move in with Ross, but finds out that he lied about getting an annulment; and Phoebe's psychic predicts that she will die in a week (but it turns out to be the psychic who dies).
Anyway, this story is based on that episode, but with a twist. Sorry if any of the details here about insurance are not like real life. I did do a little bit of research into health plans with the Screen Actors Guild, but can't guarantee accuracy. This story is only for entertainment, after all.
On the couch at Central Perk, Joey was still obviously suffering from his hernia, and Chandler pleaded with him, "Will you go to the hospital!"
Joey stubbornly refused. "Dude! Hernia operations cost like, a lot probably. Besides it's getting darker and more painful. That means it's healing."
Chandler groaned. "I will loan you the money. Just go to the hospital and let's just get that thing... pushed back in."
"Thank you, but it would take me forever to pay you that money back, and I don't want that hanging over my head, okay? Besides, as soon as my insurance kicks in, I can get all the free operations I want. Yeah, I'm thinking I'll probably start with that laser eye surgery too."
Chandler couldn't believe this. In some ways, the situation was ludicrously funny, but in other ways, it was horribly serious too.
Phoebe entered the coffeehouse, and they told her about Joey's hernia. She looked excited and said, "Hey, maybe you'll die!"
Joey cringed. "Chandler, I'm scared."
"No, we can go together!" She was still convinced that her psychic's prediction would come true, and she would die by Friday. Phoebe spoke of death as if it were a lark, and said, "We can come back and haunt these guys."
Chandler was impressed. Maybe Phoebe's bizarre ideas might convince Joey to go to the hospital. "You heard her, Joe. Do you want to have the operation, or go haunting with Phoebe?"
Joey was torn. "How can I owe you that much money?"
Chandler sighed. "Fine, fine! It won't be a loan. Just think of it as my gift to you, free of charge. A going away present before I move in with Monica."
Joey pondered that, but shook his head. "No, Chandler, I don't want your money."
"Why?" he whined. Joey never minded Chandler paying bills for him before.
"Chandler, I just--I have to get used to paying my own bills, you know, since you're moving in with Monica and everything."
"But, Joe--!" Frustrated, Chandler sat back and felt like screaming or throwing something. But then, he had a wild idea. "My company's gay friendly," he said. They looked at him bewilderedly, and Chandler explained that he and Joey could sign up as domestic partners so that his company's health plan would cover Joey's operation.
"What!" They were shocked.
"Yeah, I mean, we're always being mistaken for a gay couple anyway, Joe. Why not get some money out of it? I'm not sure, but I think we'd just have to prove that we've lived together a long time and that I support you, which is true. How would they know if we're just roommates or not?"
Joey and Phoebe just stared at him incredulously. Was Chandler actually serious? Not joking even just a little bit?
"What about Monica?" Joey asked.
Chandler shrugged. "Don't worry, I'll talk to her about it. I'm sure she'd understand."
"Not likely," Phoebe muttered.
Chandler ignored her. "I'll just--I'll just put off moving in with her, you know, until you're recovered and everything. Somebody's got to take care of you, Joe."
"Chandler, are you listening to yourself?" Phoebe asked. "You're gonna pretend you're gay for money. You might as well star in gay porn."
"Phoebe! It's not for the money, it's so Joey will agree to go to the hospital. Come on, Joe, how can you possibly go to your auditions today when you're in this much pain?"
Joey insisted, "It's not that bad. I can tough it out."
"Joey, you passed out before and couldn't stand up! What if it happens to you again, and no one's there to help you?"
"Then he'll die," Phoebe said, and turned to Joey. "Say hi to my grandma for me and tell her I'm coming soon."
Joey frowned and really didn't like the choice he was being given. "So either I'm dead or I'm your gay husband?"
"Why not?" Chandler shrugged. "You've auditioned for gay roles before, Joe. That's all this is, and it's only on paper. You wouldn't have to learn lines or kiss anybody, and it wouldn't affect your reputation with women."
Joey thought about that. "You wouldn't care that people at your office think you're gay?"
"Hey, most of my co-workers already think that! Even when I brought Monica to a work party, people kept asking me, 'What happened to your "roommate"? He was hot.' Monica never came to my work functions after that, so I can just say that I got back together with you, Joey."
Joey recalled the last time that he'd attended a work party with Chandler. "Wait, that's why all the women I hit on at your office looked at me weird? I thought I'd lost the Joey touch." He tried to laugh, but his hernia made it too painful.
"Joey!" Chandler couldn't stand seeing him like this. "That's it! As, as your gay husband, I'm putting my foot down. I'm gonna take you to the hospital right now."
"But the insurance--"
Chandler dismissed it. "I'll just sign us up at my work afterward, and they'll pay me back."
Joey still hesitated. "You sure?"
"Yeah!" Chandler knew that the insurance coverage probably wouldn't start that promptly, but he didn't care. "The important thing is for you to get better. Let's go!" He eased Joey up from the couch and helped him out the door.
Phoebe followed them and couldn't believe this was actually happening. "But, but this is crazy. You shouldn't--"
Chandler hailed a taxi and helped Joey into it. "Phoebe, can you tell Monica where I went? I'll explain to her about the insurance thing."
"But--nooo!" They just drove off to the hospital, leaving Phoebe standing there on the sidewalk. She was stunned and definitely convinced that Chandler's whole scheme was a bad idea, even worse than Ross's idea to secretly stay married to Rachel. What was wrong with everybody since Vegas?