By John Clark
Women in the United States often lose their health insurance after getting a divorce, but the Affordable Care Act may help remedy this troubling trend, according to a recent report from U.S. News & World Report.
Roughly 115,000 women lose their private health insurance after separating from their spouses, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.
And while many of these women quickly find new health insurance, their overall rate of coverage remains relatively low for more than 24 months after a divorce, according to sources.
Bridget Lavelle, the lead author of the study, said that the impact of this trend is “quite substantial,” given the fact that “approximately 1 million divorces occur each year in the U.S., and that many women get health coverage through their husbands.”
But before women in struggling marriages decide to hold off on calling a divorce attorney, the researchers cautioned that the Affordable Care Act could offer some relief for women looking for health insurance after a divorce.
According to the authors of the study, women in “moderate-income families face the greatest loss of insurance coverage” because they are “more likely than higher-income women to lose private coverage and they have less access than lower-income women to public safety-net insurance programs.”
But the new health care law aims to extend health insurance coverage to both low- and middle-income Americans, particularly those who cannot otherwise afford insurance.
Lavelle said it is too early to tell “how effective the Affordable Care Act will be in remedying the problems of insurance loss after divorce,” but she also believes that “the law has provisions that may help substantially.”
Judging from the numbers, thousands of Americans hope Lavelle is correct. Sources say that 65,000 women in the United States lose all of their health insurance, including private and public coverage, in the months after a divorce.
Many of these women previously counted as dependents in their husband’s insurance plans, and cannot afford private health insurance of their own right after a divorce.
Sources note that roughly 25 percent of women who received health insurance through their spouses’ work plans are completely uninsured six months after a divorce.
In addition, some women who have their own employer-based insurance during a marriage may not be able to afford to pay their share after a divorce.
This study certainly represents a troubling trend for women in the United States, but observers are optimistic that the new health care law will begin to address this health insurance disparity.