New Healthcare Law May Result in More Divorces

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Nov 03, 2013 | 0 Comments

Many couples who have considered divorce, continue to stay in the marriage because of other benefits, including healthcare. Some analysts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expect that if the law is successful, more Americans will be able to seek out affordable health care and pursue a long-awaited divorce.

Divorce is a complicated process that can impact all aspects of your life. Untangling your relationship can be emotionally and financially exhausting. It can also impact your personal and professional life. Protecting your rights to benefits and security is critical. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys are experienced with handling complex divorce cases on behalf of our clients. We understand the various issues faced by our clients and take a comprehensive approach to achieve the best possible outcome.

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When health care costs are no longer a barrier, many married couples may feel it is time to move on. This could create the additional side effect of healthcare reform. According to a 2012 University of Michigan study, more than 110,000 women lose their health insurance every year because of divorce. When a husband is the sole provider and healthcare is obtained through employment, divorced women may find it challenging to obtain private affordable health insurance.

Many of these women work part-time or for employers that cannot provide insurance. The COBRA benefits that may be available shortly after divorce are not lasting. The study indicated that 25% of women who lose their health insurance after divorce do not have insurance after six months of being divorced. While low-income divorced women may qualify for assistance programs, women who are mid-income have a difficult time paying premiums. 

In the past, the risk of losing health care coverage has influenced many couples to stay married. This is especially true for couples who are considering divorce at an older age. The new trend of “gray divorces” (over the age of 50) could raise second thoughts for couples who risk the need for healthcare and medication after retirement. After divorce, it can also be difficult for individuals who are diagnosed with “pre-exising” conditions. For these beneficiaries, it is better to stay on a plan provided by a spouse's employer rather than seek out private insurance.

Legal separation has been a divorce alternative for many couples who want to maintain healthcare coverage. Now, couples may be able to seek affordable care under the ACA. Assuming that the health exchanges established under “Obamacare” are successful, many post-divorcees can seek out individual, affordable healthcare coverage. For couples who have been delaying divorce to protect their access to health insurance, the ACA may prove to be the solution they have been waiting for.

After January 1, 2014, divorcing couples may not have to deal with the number of issues raised by health insurance. Health care premiums may still be negotiated during a settlement, but the ACA could provide additional options. Some suggest that the law also raises the possibility of reducing spousal support in the event that health care costs are reduced with an individual care plan.

Whether you are considering divorce or you have remained in a marriage because of healthcare benefits, now is the time to consider your options and your rights. An experienced advocate can protect your interests and negotiate the best possible settlement, considering the pros and cons of losing healthcare coverage or reducing your overall premiums, if you are the sole provider.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact family law and divorce attorney,  Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

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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