When couples divorce, they are generally concerned about how to divide assets and deal with the custody of their children. There is, however, another issue often overlooked during a divorce: health insurance.
It should not be, because according to research conducted by the University of Michigan, approximately 115,000 women lose their health insurance following divorces each year. In fact, after studying data from 1996 to 2007, sociologists found that 65,000 women found themselves without health insurance within months of ending their marriage.
The study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, also found that women who have insurance through their own employers are less likely to lose their coverage compared to their counterparts who did not. However, they do not get out of the marriage completely unscathed insurance-wise. Oftentimes, the change in household finances makes it difficult for women to pay their contributions to the employee health insurance they do have.
Ways to Get Health Insurance After a Divorce
Medicaid/Medicare. If you make a low income and have children, you may be eligible for Medicaid to cover your insurance needs. If you do not have children, you may also be able to get these benefits, though it can be extremely difficult. Depending on your age, Medicare may be an option as well.
COBRA. Those who received health care from their spouse’s employer often can receive benefits through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for 36 months. However, the monthly payments for this type of insurance can be expensive.
In addition, if you are considering this option, you must take into account how this coverage may affect your health insurance options after your COBRA coverage runs out. If you become ill while on COBRA, you run the risk that another insurance company may look at the illness as a pre-existing condition.
Private coverage. If you are unemployed or unable to qualify for health insurance through your employer, you may consider getting private insurance. Private insurance is even sometimes more affordable than getting COBRA coverage through your ex-spouse’s employer. In some cases, alimony or spousal maintenance requests may be crafted to cover the costs of insurance coverage especially when long-term marriages end.
Coverage from employer. Divorce is considered a qualifying event, so if you lose your health insurance through your ex’s employer, be sure to contact your human resources department in order to apply for a new policy with its insurance company. There is no need to try to time finalizing a divorce with open enrollment.
If you lose your insurance during your divorce, it can have devastating consequences. Contact a qualified family law attorney who can represent your interests and assist you through the divorce process.