The Health Care Reform’s Impact on Divorce (June 2013)

In mediation, many couples working well together will ask or assume that they will stay on the same health insurance plan after divorce. Its tough news when I explain that is exactly one of the current problems with our health insurance. If one spouse has a preexisting condition, this becomes a significant problem because sometimes they cannot afford or even get on a plan at all. COBRA is available for the non-employee spouse, but is only for a fixed period of time and can be unaffordable. Often divorcing couples would even stay legally married for an extended period (while dividing their assets and finances completely) just to stay on the health insurance plan. Some would say an extreme action, others would say necessary. The Health Care Reform Bill will help with many of these issues. As of January 2014, no matter what your preexisting condition, insurance companies cannot deny coverage. This is significant. It will also provide immediate access to those that are uninsured with a pre-existing condition. Additionally, uninsured and unemployed will be able to purchase affordable health insurance if you are in a certain income bracket. The bill also prevents health plans from dropping you if you get sick or from placing a lifetime cap on coverage. The health care reform is certainly a complex topic and we will learn the consequences of it as time passes. However, for a non-employee spouse without health insurance, this is a big win.

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