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Health care uncertainties and divorce

Amidst the uncertainties that have resulted from the attempted repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, experts say that many couples are delaying their divorces. For North Carolina spouses who are considering divorce, the uncertainty of future health care coverage and costs might be cause to wait for an official separation.

For couples with pre-existing conditions, particularly where one of the spouses is not working, the uncertainty of what health care will look like, particularly depending on the bill the federal government tries to pass, is a major focus point. About 10 years ago, couples could choose a legal separation instead of a divorce so that a spouse could remain under the other's work plan. However, that option is no longer available.

After a divorce, ex-spouses do have the right to remain on their former spouse's work plan under COBRA for up to three years. After that coverage is expired, however, the ex must find new insurance on their own. This can be extremely difficult when pre-existing conditions and high costs come into play. While the ACA addressed this problem, many replacement bill drafts now circulating in Washington would force those with pre-existing conditions to either be left with no insurance or pay very high premiums with even larger deductibles.

In divorce negotiations, costs of health care can be a major factor when determining alimony. Those who are going through negotiations may get legal assistance from an attorney. A lawyer could also explain the current legislation and how the client would be affected after a divorce, including the different scenarios regarding health care and the estimated future costs.

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