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Divorce and health insurance: options on the ACA exchanges

Today is the day that health insurance exchanges in each state begin enrolling members under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As events have played out, this comes on the same day that a partial shutdown of the federal government took effect due to resistance in the House of Representatives to the implementation of the ACA.

Regardless of how the shutdown unfolds, the insurance exchanges are moving ahead. And that probably means better health insurance options for many people who may be considering divorce.

After all, many couples who have separated have stayed nominally married in order to keep one spouse on the other's health insurance plan. Under the ACA, however, various subsidies are expected to help make the premiums much more affordable than used to be the case for individuals on the open market.

To be sure, in the past someone who was about to lose health insurance coverage due to divorce could consider maintaining coverage under a law known as COBRA. In practice, however, the continuation coverage available under COBRA is often prohibitively expensive.

The loss of health insurance coverage following a divorce can of course happen to husbands as well as wives. But historically it has affected women much more than men.

It may be, though, that the Affordable Care Act will make it no longer necessary for someone to cling to a nominal spouse's insurance or be fearful of losing coverage after divorce. The ACA could do this by making health insurance more affordable.

Of course, it is still necessary for people to inform themselves about how the health insurance exchange in a given state such as Illinois actually works. The point of this post, though, is that the exchanges are expected to play a key role in providing options to buy affordable health insurance for people who lost coverage on a spouse's policy due to divorce.

Source: Financial Planning, "Divorce Wave to Follow Obamacare Rollout?" Janice Fioravante, September 30, 2013

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