Health insurance- an overlooked item for spouses during divorce

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Divorce on Thursday, December 6, 2012.

When a married Virginia couple splits up, there are a host of issues that the former husband and wife must consider and work out. Too often, the divorce case becomes overwhelming, and, oftentimes, the spouses do not address or account for necessities like health insurance in their separation agreement or divorce decree.

A recent study from the University of Michigan explores this reality. The study examined the status of health insurance coverage for women following divorce, recognizing that such coverage provides significant economic benefits. The study found that over 100,000 women per year lose their health insurance coverage after a divorce- this is about 20 percent of all American women who go through a divorce. Typically, the women who have been insured as dependents on their husbands' employment insurance suffer the most. Such women often experience a disruption in insurance and cannot easily find replacement insurance, usually because of the financial difficulties that result from a divorce.

Fortunately, federal laws offer some solutions for Virginia women who may be losing their health insurance as a result of a divorce. For example, federal law allows ex-spouses to extend their insurance under a COBRA plan for up to three years. The new federal health care law will also offer additional solutions, especially when certain provisions take effect in 2014.

Divorce raises many difficult issues for couples. While a majority of a separating couple's time may be spent focusing on custody and support issues, it is also important for the couple to consider some overlooked concerns like health coverage. Provisions for health insurance coverage can even be written directly in to a divorce agreement, allowing spouses to ensure that they maintain their coverage after the separation has been finalized.

Source:, "Divorced women often lose health insurance coverage," Shefali S. Kulkarni, Nov. 22, 2012.

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