Birmingham Divorce May Get Easier Under Obamacare

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Oct 08, 2013 | 0 Comments

From its inception, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been controversial.cal

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Regardless of your personal feelings on the law, here's a fact that's hard to deny: It's probably going to make getting a divorce in Birmingham easier, particularly for older women – a segment of the population that is increasingly responsible for initiating such proceedings.

Health care and divorce are more intricately intertwined than some people might have previously recognized. The reasons are somewhat complex, but it ultimately comes down to this: When one party no longer has to worry about whether they will be able to secure health care following a split, it takes one less fear off the table and ultimately makes the transition easier.

Let's start with the fact that it's been well-documented that divorce among those over the age of 50 is on the rise. Even while rates of divorce overall have leveled off since 1990 (and even gone down among some cohorts), the divorce rate for the 50-and-older crowd has doubled since then.

Still, there is no denying that the financial implications of divorcing at an older age are numerous. For some, this has been enough to hold them back from filing.

Last year, the University of Michigan conducted a study revealing that every year, nearly 120,000 women in the U.S. lose their access to private health insurance after a divorce. Getting new coverage can be tough, and it usually doesn't happen quickly. In many cases, older women who don't have jobs outside the home or whose employer doesn't offer them the option of health insurance coverage are going to have a very difficult time securing coverage. Throw a pre-existing condition into the mix, and it becomes next to impossible.

Even with options like COBRA, that kind of coverage is quite expensive and it usually only lasts about 36 months or so.

This can serve as a major deterrent to someone who is contemplating whether to leave an unhappy marriage. Even if they resolve to leave eventually, they might wait until they are at least 65, and thus old enough to qualify for federal health benefits through Medicare.

In some cases, couple might file for legal separation and then wait until they were both age 65 before completing the action.

Now, starting on Jan. 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act is going to make coverage far more accessible to a wide number of people – including those who are newly divorced, just shy of retirement age and suffering from a pre-existing condition. That means that the lower-earning spouse won't have to worry so much about how they are going to pay for health care. That can be a major asset.

It's also worth noting that because health care costs are often a critical talking point in divorce agreement negotiations, reduced health care costs could mean that higher-earning spouses will want to propose lower alimony/support payments.

Obamacare offers certain subsidies to individuals applying for their own insurance coverage. Also, many states are going to see the expansion of Medicaid under the program, with more people than ever being eligible for these federal benefits. If the lower-earning spouse has to come up with less out-of-pocket for a new health care plan, it's reasonable that this should be factored into the amount the higher-earning spouse is required to pay in terms of support.

This is just a cursory look at the issue. For a more in-depth consultation regarding your options, contact us today.

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

Additional Resources:

Obamacare could ease divorce's financial sting, Sept. 25, 2013, By Elizabeth O'Brien, MarketWatch

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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