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Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, providing health care insurance after a divorce was cost prohibitive for many couples. Insurance coverage for children is typically covered under the policy of the employed parent, but when one spouse is dependent upon the other spouse, that spouse often loses those benefits in the event of a divorce. This is due to the fact that health care insurance policies are only written to cover current spouses.

Generally, people who become ineligible for health insurance under their ex-spouse’s policy have been able to qualify for COBRA insurance for up to 36 months. COBRA allows people to purchase insurance coverage in the same insurance group for a predetermined period of time. The cost of this type of insurance, however, can be as much as 102 percent of the group rate that the spouse may have been paying. This high cost is startling to some, and was often the cause for many women opting to be uninsured after a divorce, according to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Michigan.

Insurance assistance

Under the Affordable Care Act, an unmarried individual would be able to qualify for insurance cost assistance subsidies. This allows them to not have to suffer from having high monthly COBRA rates. The types of assistance available beginning January of 2014 include the following:

  • Subsidies – A household that makes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $45,960 for a single person, would qualify for a subsidy in the form of a tax credit.
  • Set premiums – Insurance providers must provide insurance despite prior medical conditions. This means that a spouse who has lost health coverage due to divorce will not be charged more for insurance simply because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Minimum standards – Those who are covered by an insurance plan may now expect that their policy will include coverage in emergency rooms without prior authorization, rehabilitative services, and basic dental care.
  • Annual Caps – This type of insurance will ensure that there is a reasonable cap on out of pocket medical expenses each year.

With the changes in federal insurance law, people who may have previously relied on health care provided by their spouse’s employer may be able to afford quality insurance that is not as expensive as in the past.

Health care costs after divorce 

The costs of health care often have a large bearing on the size of divorce settlements or maintenance to be provided. A qualified family law attorney can help those struggling with health care decisions to negotiate for a settlement that will help them cover the costs of their care.

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