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Many women lose healthcare post-divorce

Photo of Karen Lavin

Married couples enjoy many cost-efficiencies. A shared residence, buying food in bulk and tax breaks, for example. But when a married couple divorces, the efficiencies evaporate, meaning each spouse's cost-of-living will escalate. When developing a support plan, these couples need to consider the economic consequences that come from the end of these efficiencies.

One of the more significant of those efficiencies, especially for older couples, is health insurance. Many Illinois women get their health insurance through their husband's job. Of women below the age of 65, one quarter have insurance that will continue only so long as their marriage does. When these women divorce their husband, they are also divorcing his employment-provided insurance.

A recent study from the University of Michigan has found that divorce causes around 115,000 women to lose their insurance annually. Of these, over half are without insurance for the long-term.

The study goes so far as to give this loss of insurance as a reason for the widely accepted statistic that married people are in general healthier than unmarried people. If healthcare is unaffordable to many divorced women, then it would make sense that there would be negative health consequences.

Obtaining health insurance outside of an employer plan can be pricey. While very-low income women may qualify for at least some level of government subsidized healthcare, many middle-class women who do not qualify also do not have the funds to budget for such a large expense.

One solution may be to institute policies to help ensure that more unmarried women are covered by health insurance. Some women, however, might want to consider the cost of insurance and healthcare when negotiating property division and alimony.

Source: News-Medical.com, "US women lose their health insurance after divorce: study," Dec. 1, 2012

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