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Divorce Means No Insurance

The dissolution of marriage comes along with many changes for both parties involved. One of the many drastic changes is the difference in lifestyle. The division of assets puts a brand new perspective on a lot of everyday things when spouses are no longer together. Sometimes the division of assets affects the woman in a divorce more severely than the man, and this is because many marriages still see the male as the breadwinner and the woman as the homemaker. Therefore, a divorce for many women also means losing health insurance protection.

Without health insurance, many women are left stranded to fend for themselves should an injury occur or some type of medical emergency. Most insurance plans through a place of business is far less expensive than that of an independent plan. This presents yet another problem as women who have been homemakers for so long probably do not have sufficient skills to obtain a job, and consequently the benefits that come with it. Paying out of your own pocket for health insurance is costly to say the least.

Crunching the Numbers
A recent University of Michigan study revealed that roughly 115,000 American women lose their private health insurance annually after a divorce, and about half of them do not get replacement coverage.

Women who fall into this category often find themselves out of insurance for a significant amount of time. The stats show that women’s overall rates of health insurance coverage remain depressed for more than two years after the divorce. When conducted, the study looked at data that spanned four years and observed women who were married, remained married, or divorced at some point during that time. They found that approximately six months after divorce, 15 to 20 percent of women lose their health insurance coverage.

Women from moderate income families, meaning those making between two or three times the federal poverty level (or about $46,000 and $70,000 for a family of four), are at high risk of losing insurance in a divorce. Under the law, these families technically make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase private health insurance coverage. This becomes a dilemma for many families, and they begin to struggle.

Other Ways to Survive
Not having health care altogether is not the only option for divorced women who were dependent on their spouse for insurance previously. Federal law allows ex-spouses to extend their coverage through the Federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, also known as COBRA, for up to three years. But premiums for this kind of coverage are expensive because the individual picks up the entire cost of the policy. However, this does allow the ex-spouse to be insured, and gives them ample time to find a policy through either new employment or of their own accord. Some states even employ programs that allow an ex-spouse to simply pay the premium of the employer-based insurance, rather than the costly COBRA plan.

So, all is not lost, but be alert during a divorce, since the division of assets can often mean that the luxuries and the small things we often do not think about are taken away. Always be prepared, and where ever possible, discuss with a spouse just how you will be taken care of post-divorce, health care especially.

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