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Changes in law may simplify post-divorce health insurance

In the past, many people in North Dakota, particularly older ones, often found themselves losing health insurance as a consequence of a divorce. In some instances, as a result of some recent changes in the law, they may now discover that it is not as difficult to get new coverage that is affordable and available to them.

The frightening figures showed that about 115,000 women each year, as well as some men, have been losing their health insurance after getting divorced, and many have been unable to easily replace it.

Health insurance provided to spouses of employees under an employer provided policy will ordinarily simply end after a divorce. The employer is required to allow the ex-spouse to buy in to COBRA continuation coverage for up to three years, but the premiums are usually sky high and unaffordable. Few could previously obtain other health insurance policies, however, because of limitations on those with preexisting conditions. This was especially true for those over 50 but still too young for Medicare.

With the coming full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare) at the start of 2014, health insurers can no longer refuse to grant new health insurance policies to individuals because of preexisting conditions. The previous state of affairs caused some older people to try to postpone a divorce until after they qualified for Medicare at age 65.

When negotiating a divorce settlement, this change in the availability of such replacement health insurance may have an impact on post-divorce health care costs , the cost of medical insurance and the needed amount of spousal support.

MarketWatch.com, "Obamacare could ease divorce's financial sting" Elizabeth O'Brien, Sep. 25, 2013

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
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