While much is said about women gain in divorce (i.e. shares of retirement benefits, homes, custody of children), not much is reported on the plight divorced women have in maintaining health care coverage. A recent study conducted by a University of Michigan women’s studies professor and her doctoral student found that nearly 115,000 American women lose their health insurance each year after a divorce.
The study, published in the National Institute of Health’s Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found that the lack of health care coverage can lead to declining revenues in medical practices, as fewer patients can afford to pay for out-of-pocket treatments. The researchers found that long-term care eligibility is also affected, as 65,000 women lose this type of insurance after their marriages end.
They established their findings by reviewing U.S. Census Bureau information that tracked the marital status and health insurance coverage of more than 1,400 women. They found that nearly one in four women had coverage through their husband’s employer, which they lost upon divorce.
The economic impact was even more telling. Women making 200-300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines were affected to the greatest extent, since they were not able to afford COBRA payments and made too much money to qualify for public insurance. The researchers found that this likely led to fewer women maintaining regular check-ups due to affordability
The study underscores the importance of negotiating proper terms on how coverage should continue (at least for a short time) after divorce. If you have questions about post-divorce coverage, an experienced family law attorney can help.
Source: American Medical News.com, Divorce raises risk that women will be without health coverage, December 11, 2012