Texas readers may be interested to know that approximately 115,000 women lose their private medical insurance due to divorce each year, according to a 2012 study by the University of Michigan. Many of these women are in their 50s or 60s, and many of them either don’t work outside the home or have jobs that don’t offer health insurance. While it is true that many spouses qualify for COBRA coverage under their ex-spouse’s plan, it is expensive and generally limited to 36 months. Health insurance is one of the many factors that make what is known as a “gray divorce” so difficult.
However, the arrival of Obamacare’s full implementation in 2014 may make coverage much less expensive. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions that can be an issue as people age. This option may allow the non-working spouse to obtain affordable insurance and move on after the divorce is final.
There have been cases where finalization of a divorce has waited until the non-working spouse turns 65 and can go on Medicare. There have also been times when huge alimony payments are pursued to cover the costs of finding insurance on the open market, if indeed it can be found at all. Under the new Affordable Care Act, many people will also qualify for a tax credit toward their coverage. Policies that are purchased in state marketplaces have a sliding scale for subsidies for incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level. For a single person, that’s an income of just under $47,000.
There are many factors in a divorce that could cause complications, particularly when the couple is older and has been married for many years. It may be wise for couples in this situation to allow a family law attorney to review the case. The attorney may be to help facilitate a fair alimony plan or negotiate for an equitable divorce settlement that allows both spouses to be financially stable.
Source: Market Watch, “Obamacare could ease divorce’s financial sting“, Elizabeth O’Brien, September 25, 2013