Women in thousands lose health care coverage after divorce

One of the benefits of marriage is combining income, accounts, property and other sharing benefits including healthcare coverage. Unfortunately, dissolving a marriage can also mean dividing accounts and the loss of these benefits. According to a new study, every year there are approximately 115,000 women who lose health insurance because of divorce. Many of these women do not see their coverage restored for more than 2 years after divorce.

It is not uncommon for women in Salt Lake City, Utah or nationwide to obtain health care coverage through a husband's employer. With more than 1 million couples divorcing every year, this can leave a substantial number of women without benefits. A new study examined how women's health care coverage was impacted after divorce.

According to the research:

  • Every year, 65,000 divorced women lose all health insurance coverage during the months following divorce
  • Women who have their own employer-based coverage are less likely to lose coverage
  • Financial losses related to divorce could reduce ability to meet ordinary expenses, including a share of employee-sponsored health insurance
  • Despite financial hardships, the majority of women do not qualify for Medicaid or other public insurance programs
  • Women may have difficulties obtaining private health insurance coverage because they don't qualify as a dependent under their spouse's policy and have difficulty paying premiums for other sources of private insurance

Though education and income can protect some women from the total loss of health care coverage, employment alone may not be a path to benefits. Many jobs are part-time, temporary, or contract and do not offer benefits. Researchers argue that the current U.S. model of healthcare and insurance system is inadequate given that marital status and jobs will change over a lifetime.

Life changes will inevitably impact the ability to maintain insurance coverage. The researchers are uncertain about how effective the Affordable Care Act will be in remedying the problem of insurance loss after divorce, they suspect that certain provisions may help. If you are facing divorce, an experienced attorney can help protect your financial interests.

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