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Loss of health insurance common among divorced women

Spokane residents who have gone through or are contemplating divorce understand what a lasting impact the decision can make. Divorce affects relationships, finances and can take a giant emotional toll. On the other hand, it can represent the closure of one chapter and the blank page of a new chapter; and all the possibilities that come with it.

While we typically speak about division of assets, child support or community property, there are often smaller unlooked aspects of divorce important for those contemplating dissolution to consider and be aware of.

Recently, University of Michigan researchers estimated that each year, 65,000 women in the United States become uninsured as a result of divorce. It is estimated that each year, 115,000 women lose private insurance coverage after dissolution. As a result, the government typically will play a role, with programs like Medicaid. However, some affluent or middle class women can fall through the cracks and are not able to qualify for government assistance because they did not meet the financial minimum, but did not have the means necessary for private insurance. Many of the women in the study were dependent upon their ex-spouse's health insurance.

Many times women thinking about divorce understand what the big challenges will be. Potential child support, custody issues or division of the assets are big ticket areas. However, as this study illustrates, there can be hidden or forgotten elements of divorce that will appear after the dissolution is finalized. While retaining health insurance is not an adequate reason to stay in a failing or destructive marriage, it is good to know about the loss of coverage and plan accordingly.

Divorce can alter what your previous standards of living were. Typically, cohabitating is more economically sound than maintaining two separate residents. While it varies case by case, divorce may change your standard of living and finances. Understanding your legal rights and possible financial obstacles is an important step in preparing for divorce, and for beginning a new chapter in your life.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "After Divorce, Many Women Lose Health Insurance," Nov. 14, 2012

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