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Study illuminates risk of losing health insurance in divorce

The University of Michigan recently released a study showing that about 115,000 women lose their health insurance coverage after a divorce. Their overall rates of coverage remain depressed for more than two years after the end of a marriage.

The study focused on data recorded over 11 years for women between the ages of 26 and 64. While this particular survey focused on how women's health care coverage is affected in divorce but the findings can also be applied to men. Anyone going through a divorce can be vulnerable to financial consequences like losing insurance coverage.

Those who are insured as dependants on a spouse's employer-based policy are particularly vulnerable. Insurance companies may make changes to coverage following a "major life event" like divorce. In the Michigan study nearly one in four women who relied on this coverage were uninsured six months after divorce.

Divorcing spouses who have their own employer-based coverage are least vulnerable in divorce. But even they are not immune from losing health coverage following a divorce. Those who rely on two incomes while married may find that they aren't able to meet financial obligations like insurance payments after divorce. This is especially true if the divorce process was unusually costly.

Overall, people in moderate-income families are at the greatest risk of losing coverage. Not only are they more likely to lose private coverage than people with a higher income, they also miss out on social safety nets that help lower-income families.

If you are considering or going through a divorce, consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney. They can help you protect your personal and financial interests while pursuing the fairest possible outcome, allowing you to focus on your future.

Source: Science Codex, "Divorce costs thousands of women health coverage," Nov. 12, 2012

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