Divorce and Women’s Risk of Health Insurance Loss: Will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) correct these deficiencies?
By Bridget Lavelle and Pamela J. Smock
Journal of Health and Social Behavior, November 12, 2012
This article bridges the literatures on the economic consequences of divorce for women with that on marital transitions and health by focusing on women’s health insurance.
Using a monthly calendar of marital status and health insurance coverage from 1,442 women in the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we examine how women’s health insurance changes after divorce.
Our estimates suggest that roughly 115,000 American women lose private health insurance annually in the months following divorce and that roughly 65,000 of these women become uninsured.
The loss of insurance coverage we observe is not just a short-term disruption. Women’s rates of insurance coverage remain depressed for more than two years after divorce. Insurance loss may compound the economic losses women experience after divorce and contribute to as well as compound previously documented health declines following divorce.
From the Discussion
Not all women are equally likely to lose health insurance after divorce. Those insured as dependents on husbands’ employer-based insurance plans are most vulnerable to insurance loss, while stable, full-time employment buffers against it. Women from moderate-income families are particularly vulnerable. Many of these women fall into the ranks of the near-poor after divorce, with too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase private health insurance coverage.
Our findings also add to the body of evidence that the current health care and insurance system in the United States is inadequate for a population in which multiple family and job changes over the life course are not uncommon.
It remains to be seen how effectively the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 — expected to be fully implanted by 2014 — will remedy the problem of insurance loss after divorce. Moving forward, policy makers should be aware that a system that induces a de facto linkage between marital status and health insurance may have unintentional adverse consequences.
Read the entire article. http://hsb.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/11/09/0022146512465758.full.pd...
Illustration: Divorce of Napoleon and Josephine
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