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Health insurance coverage and divorces

Divorcing couples in Texas may wonder about the availability or loss of health insurance after their marriage is dissolved. Many choose to stay together because one spouse can not get a policy after losing coverage under the other spouse's employer-provided policy. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, more options have become available, and insurance may no longer have such an effect.

The Affordable Care Act precludes the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and provides more alternatives. This approach allows spouses to consider the divorce in a new light not overshadowed by financial worries about the insurance coverage. The issue is especially important for people over 50 years of age and individuals who have been out of the workplace for a long time and thus may have trouble finding a job with health benefits. These factors used to be a major reason why partners would not proceed with the divorce, but due to the recent changes, several options are now available.

Prior to the ACA, health insurance coverage was often used as leverage in property division negotiations and exchanged for other valuable assets such as profits from business or real estate. Many divorced individuals were able to obtain health care insurance thorough COBRA. This type of plan is offered for 36 months until it is terminated, and the individual will be required to find their own insurance plan.

The availability of health care coverage is now losing importance both as a reason to stay in a failing marriage as well as a bargaining chip. An attorney with experience in divorce law may now be able to negotiate a property settlement agreement on behalf of a client who previously would have had difficulty obtaining such coverage without having to sacrifice other assets.

Source: Philly.com, "Insurance no longer may hinder divorce", Robert Calandra, March 03, 2014

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