Divorce costs thousands of women health insurance coverage

November 12, 2012 by Diane Swanbrow, University of Michigan

(Medical Xpress)—About 115,000 women lose their private health insurance every year in the wake of divorce, according to a University of Michigan study.

And this loss is not temporary: women's overall rates of health insurance coverage remain depressed for more than two years after divorce.

"Given that approximately one million divorces occur each year in the U.S., and that many women get through their husbands, the impact is quite substantial," says Bridget Lavelle, a U-M Ph.D. candidate in public policy and sociology, and lead author of the study, which appears in the December issue of the .

Lavelle conducted the study, which analyzes nationally representative from 1996 through 2007 on women between the ages of 26 and 64, with U-M sociologist Pamela Smock. Their research was supported by the U-M National Poverty Center.

Among the other key findings of the study:

  • Each year, roughly 65,000 divorced women lose all health insurance coverage in the months following divorce. Many women have trouble maintaining private insurance coverage because they no longer qualify as dependents under husbands' policies or have difficulty paying premiums for other sources of private insurance. And despite the divorced women often experience, many do not qualify for Medicaid or other .
  • Women insured as dependents on their husband's employer-based insurance policy are particularly vulnerable to loss of coverage after divorce. Nearly one-quarter of them are uninsured six months after divorce.
  • Women who have their own employer-based coverage are less likely than other women to lose coverage (11 percent vs. 17 percent) but they are not completely immune from loss of coverage because related to the divorce may reduce their ability to meet ordinary expenses, including their share of employee-sponsored health insurance.
"Women in moderate-income families face the greatest loss of insurance coverage," says Lavelle. "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."

Lavelle and Smock also found that full-time work and education are important buffers protecting women from losing health insurance after divorce. But since many women work part-time, or in jobs that don't provide , the protective effects of employment are not universal.

"The current health care and insurance system in the U.S. is inadequate for a population in which multiple marital and job changes over the life course are not uncommon," Lavelle and Smock conclude. "It remains to be seen how effective the Affordable Care Act will be in remedying the problem of insurance loss after divorce, but the law has provisions that may help substantially."

In the meantime, tens of thousands of women lose their every year – in addition to all the other economic losses that accompany divorce.

Explore further: Many adults with diabetes have no insurance coverage

More information: hsb.sagepub.com/content/early/ … 46512465758.abstract

Related Stories

Many adults with diabetes have no insurance coverage

July 23, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Approximately two million adults under the age of 65 years with diabetes have no health insurance, according to research published online July 11 in Diabetes Care.

Families shifting from private to public health insurance for children: study

July 27, 2011
Families are increasingly relying on public health insurance plans to provide coverage for their children, a growing trend that researchers say is tied to job losses, coverage changes to private health insurance plans, and ...

89 million people medically uninsured during 2004 -- 2007

August 9, 2012
Eighty-nine million Americans were without health insurance for at least one month during the period from 2004 to 2007, and 23 million lost coverage more than once during that time, according to researchers at Penn State ...

Study: More than 9 million U.S. adults lost health coverage in recession

December 9, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- An estimated 9.3 million American adults lost health insurance coverage as a result of increased unemployment during the recession of 2007-09, according to a newly published study by researchers at Cornell, ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.