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Many women lose health insurance after divorce

Unfortunately, divorce can often leave a former spouse financially worse off than when he or she was married. The division of jointly owned assets and the loss of all the financial advantages of marriage can leave many people under financial stress for a period of time after the divorce is final. Now a new study highlights an additional financial stressor that hits women in particular after divorce: loss of health insurance. The issue highlights the importance of obtaining a fair award of spousal support for a woman who will need to finance her own health insurance for the first time.

The study, conducted by the University of Michigan, found that approximately about 115,000 women in the U.S. lose their health insurance following a divorce. About half of these women do not end up replacing the lost coverage. The researchers also concluded that the loss is long-lasting: the rate of health insurance coverage for divorced women remains low for at least two years after divorce, which is as long as the researchers were able to track the data.

Not surprisingly, the women most at risk of losing their health insurance coverage are those who were covered as dependents under a policy issued to their former husband. Women who were financially more independent in the marriage are at lower risk.

The best way to guard against a loss of health insurance following divorce is to seek, during the divorce proceedings, an adequate amount of alimony, referred to in Colorado as spousal maintenance. Colorado courts will award temporary maintenance during the divorce proceedings and can award ongoing support once the divorce is final. The needs of the spouse seeking support are an important factor in determining the amount of the monthly payment, and so it is critical to let the court know the amount that will be necessary to pay for health insurance.

Source: Redding Record-Searchlight, "Divorced women often lose health coverage," Shefali S. Kulkarni, Nov. 22, 2012

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