In November, 2012, the Supreme Court of Texas made it easier to obtain a divorce without a lawyer, particularly in cases where no children are involved and the divorce is uncontested. Divorce is always difficult, even uncontested, but it can be especially difficult on the poor who may need a divorce but cannot afford an attorney. But in any “do-it-yourself” divorce, the parties should consider unintended consequences.
We’ve handled hundreds and hundreds of divorce cases in central Texas over the past 15 years, each one unique with it’s own set of very personal circumstances. The major issues such as child custody and support and division of assets tend to get the most attention. What gets less attention are things like the impact of divorce on health insurance. Typically, one spouse’s health insurance covers the other spouse. Divorce can leave one or even possibly both with no or inadequate health insurance.
A recent University of Michigan study found that over 115,000 women aged 26-64 lose health insurance every year due to divorce. Nearly one-quarter of the women insured on their husbands’ employer-based insurance policies were still uninsured six months after divorce. Women who have their own insurance through their employer weren’t completely in the clear either – the study found that 11 percent still lost coverage after a divorce due to financial losses related to the split. Oddly enough, the study showed women in moderate-income families face the greatest loss of insurance coverage, even more so than lower income women who have better access to public safety-net insurance programs.
Bottom line? Be sure to consider the consequences of divorce on your health insurance before you finalize the divorce. Consider a discussion with an attorney, as these issues can be complex and nuanced.
Source: everydayhealth.com, “Thousands of Women Lose Health Insurance Due to Divorce in U.S.,” Erin Hicks, Nov. 13, 2012