Advance Divorce Planning Can Help Avoid Insurance Woes

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Dec 19, 2012 | 0 Comments

The ending of a marriage in and of itself can leave you with wounds that can be hard to heal. But your health shouldn't be left in jeopardy. 

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Birmingham divorce lawyers recently learned of a study conducted by the University of Michigan which found that women are at high risk of losing their health insurance coverage in the wake of a divorce.

Divorce can be costly as it is without the added worry of potentially snowballing medical debt. There are ways you can protect yourself from this fate by engaging in careful advance planning with an experienced divorce attorney.

The Michigan researchers, whose work was published in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, discovered that nearly 120,000 women lose their private health insurance following a divorce. What's more, women's overall insurance coverage – for their home, car, and life – stay much lower in the two years following a divorce than for women who are still married or even single.

In addition to the private health care insurance losses, some 65,000 American women lose all health insurance each year in the two months after a divorce.

In fact, one-fourth of women who were insured as dependent's on their ex-husband's employer health plan are no longer insured a half a year after the divorce is finalized. Women who may have their own insurance through their employer may have it a bit easier, financial struggles make it tough to afford those monthly payments on their own – especially if she is from a moderate-income family.

The conclusions are based on national data regarding women between the ages of 26 and 64 from 1996 through 2007. In all, there are an estimated $1 million divorces annually in the U.S., so the impact of this is rather substantial, according to researchers.

Part of the problem is that many are no longer able to hang onto their private coverage that they had maintained through their husband because they aren't any longer considered a dependent. Add to this the fact that many aren't able to pay the kind of premiums set for other kinds of private insurance. They're living on reduced incomes, and money is tight as it is without adding another several hundred dollars a month. Plus, a lot of jobs don't offer health insurance coverage.

Compounding all of this is the fact that few qualify for public health insurance benefits, such as Medicaid.

With the impending implementation of Affordable Care Act, enacted by President Barack Obama, access may become slightly easier. However, the measure won't be in full effect until 2014. That doesn't do much good to someone who is struggling right now.

This is one of the many reasons it is so important to invest in a skilled divorce lawyer. Even if you think you can't afford it, consider that without  insurance coverage, a hospital bill or car accident could end up costing you thousands of dollars.

One of the ways we can help is by requesting health benefits as part of the divorce settlement negotiation. You should be able to hang on to coverage during your separation. This request may be more effective if you share children.

Also, we can help connect you with resources such as COBRA that will keep you covered for up to three years after your divorce is finalized. The premiums may be high, but it's cheaper than paying full cost for a major medical procedure.

If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

Divorce Puts Women at Risk of Losing Health Insurance, Study Finds, Nov. 16, 2012, Staff Report, U.S. News & World Report Health

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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