Critics of Obamacare have complained about the high costs of fees and taxes. They have also complained about the implementation costs, but experts suggest there may be one more deleterious effect of implementing our new insurance program – an increase in the divorce rate.
Because many couples have decided to stay married to keep their insurance, the unintended consequence of healthcare reform could be an increase in the number of couples who are now able to divorce and get healthcare on their own.
Losing health insurance devastating especially for women
According to a new University of Michigan study, there is a high number of women who lose their health insurance after they divorce. In fact, health care experts suggest this is a significant problem for women.
Why does this problem seem to hurt mainly women? Women often are not employed outside of the home, they work part-time or they work for an employer who does not offer insurance. If the woman decides to get a divorce, they may be offered COBRA health benefits under their ex-spouse’s plan, but this type of insurance is offered only for a short period of time. Additionally, even if insurance is offered, the women may no longer be able to afford premiums on their own.
Women who choose to divorce may eventually be dropped by their ex-husband’s insurance company, and according to the study, many are still uninsured months later. Unfortunately, this issue mainly affects women in the moderate income group because women who are in the lower income group are more likely to qualify for Medicaid and other assistance programs. Wealthier women may also be less affected because, unlike middle class women, they may be able to purchase their own health insurance.
Middle Aged women hardest hit by losing insurance
So what happens when a middle aged woman decides to get a divorce? According to a recent article in the Washington Times, concerns may be the most acute for middle aged women. Individuals, who are over the age of 50, but too young to receive Medicare, may be the hardest hit. In fact, these women report they are the most likely to remain married to keep their insurance.
These women may also be hesitant to divorce because many insurance companies refuse to cover claimants who have pre-existing health conditions. Couples who remain married may decide to live apart, but this arrangement may only work if neither spouse decides to remarry.
What’s the bottom line? Legal experts suggest Obamacare may remove what has historically been a significant barrier to divorce- health insurance. Starting January 1, 2014, individuals who decide to purchase health insurance through an exchange may be able to make divorce decisions without considering health insurance.
Experts also suggest that if divorcing spouses are able to get affordable health insurance through Obamacare then the amount of spousal support which often is paid for health care costs may also be decreased. Legal experts, however, expect battles to continue over what type of coverage the divorcing spouse may be entitled to receive and whether the supporting spouse should be forced to pay for the best coverage. Health care experts note there are platinum, silver and bronze coverage options which vary greatly in price.
So while many divorce experts argue that better availability to health care is likely to increase the divorce rate, the bigger question is how it could complicate other aspects of divorce which should be discussed with a divorce lawyer.
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