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How the Affordable Care Act may affect U.S. divorce rates

Individuals going through a divorce often have a myriad of factors to consider and decisions to make. Most notable are matters related to child custody and the division of assets and property. Previously, the loss of health insurance coverage was another major factor that divorcing individuals were forced to contemplate. However, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, for many divorcees, fears related to health care coverage have largely been erased.

Prior to the ACA, some unhappily married couples chose to stay married simply so both individuals would be able to retain affordable health insurance coverage. In cases where a couple did decide to divorce, the spouse whose employer provided coverage often benefitted handsomely for agreeing to allow an ex to stay on his or her plan.

It's too soon to say if or how the ACA will impact U.S. divorce rates. However, it's reassuring to note that spouses, who previously felt trapped in a marriage due to a preexisting condition and their inability to obtain health insurance coverage, now have more affordable options.
While uninsured spouses were previously expected to make considerable concessions in a divorce settlement to retain health care coverage, today the playing field is more level. In addition to health insurance coverage now available via the ACA, divorcing individuals may also choose to retain coverage via COBRA through an ex's employer.

For divorcing individuals, decisions related to health insurance coverage can be complex and much depends on an individual’s age and health. Today, millions of Americans who previously were not able to afford or qualify for health insurance can now obtain coverage. Among these Americans are those who previously relied upon a spouse and had few options in the wake of a divorce.

Source: Philly.com, "Insurance no longer may hinder divorce," Robert Calandra, March 2, 2014

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