QUESTION: After my divorce will I still be covered by my husband’s medical insurance that he gets through his work?  

 The Affordable Care Act (ACA or ObamaCare) requires all non-exempt Americans to have basic health insurance or pay a penalty. What are your options if you lose your insurance because of divorce?

A 2012 study conducted by the University of Michigan estimated that about 115,000 women lose their private health insurance coverage each year because of divorce.  Many of these women had health insurance coverage through their spouse’s employer. But, once a woman is divorced, she can no longer claim benefits under her spouse’s plan. In fact, using benefits after a divorce can result in the plan holder being held liable for fraud and being required to pay back insurance benefits.

A woman can stay on her ex-spouse’s insurance by using post-divorce COBRA health benefits, but these benefits are expensive and coverage is limited to 18 to 36 months. The 2012 study found that most women who lost insurance coverage due to divorce remained uninsured for months or even years.  Older couples often waited to be eligible for Medicare before divorcing.

Some women can get insurance through their own employer, but the insurance may be just as expensive as COBRA. Having the cost of insurance deducted from your paycheck can cause financial strain when you are raising children on a single income.

But, there is an option that didn’t exist when the University of Michigan conducted its 2012 study. The ACA offers insurance coverage based on your income on the Health Insurance Marketplace. There are a variety of plans to choose from and insurers can no longer discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. Although the last open-enrollment period ended on March 31, 2014, Americans who lose coverage due to divorce may enroll in a plan within 60 days of the divorce.

If health insurance is still too expensive, you may be able to get coverage under extend Medicaid guidelines. Medicaid is available for single persons earning less than $15,521 per year ($20,920 for a family of two).

The cost of health insurance may be something you want to consider during your divorce proceedings, especially if you are receiving alimony. To learn more about your options, please contact Petrelli Previtera at 215-523-6900.