The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as, ObamaCare, is, “the US law aimed at reforming the American health care system. ObamaCare’s main focus is on providing more Americans with access to affordable health insurance, improving the quality of health care and health insurance, regulating the health insurance industry, and reducing health care spending in the US,” according to the ObamaCarefacts.com website.
Most Americans are covered by health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. For those who are not, ObamaCare requires them to purchase minimal health insurance, demonstrate exemption or pay a fine. The ObamaCarefacts.com website claims that the mandate has reduced the percentage of uninsured citizens from 16 percent to less than 13 percent.
Although many people are aware of their ObamaCare rights and responsibilities, navigating the options and regulations can be overwhelming for someone who’s life situation has changed because of divorce or a death in the family.
“Unless both spouses are fully employed and eligible for benefits,” said family law attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler, “after divorce, somebody is going to be without insurance.”
“It is very important that there is no gap in coverage, so you must deal with the issue early in divorce negotiations,” writes financial educator, Michele Sacks Lowenstein.
She explains that the insured spouse can extend health coverage to children but not an ex-spouse. If there is spousal support ordered, those proceeds could be used by the recipient to secure health care coverage.
COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) allows bridge coverage through the insured spouse’s employer (if there are 20 or more employees) but is expensive and not intended to be long-term. COBRA coverage ends after 36 months.
Possibly the best option is to secure health insurance through your employer after divorce. If you qualify for health care benefits, your employer may pay all or some of the premiums. If you are not employed or not eligible for benefits, you will still need to find your own health coverage, apply for an exemption or risk fines.
That’s where licensed insurance professionals, like Debbie Stroup, with Speir Financial Services, can be of help. Stroup is federally Healthcare Marketplace certified to assist clients seeking to enroll with healthcare.gov.
She analyzes dozens of health care insurance options and recommends two or three that would be most beneficial to the client.
Stroup is paid by the insurance companies to assist clients in their search for mandated health insurance coverage. For no cost to the client, Stroup reviews their current plan and helps with enrollment. She is also familiar with the exemptions that allow citizens with life-changing events such as divorce or a death in the family to enroll past the open-enrollment cut-off date or file the appropriate paperwork to avoid fines for non-compliance.
The other life-changing event Stroup is accustomed to helping people with is aging into Medicare at 65. There is a seven-month window of time surrounding a person’s 65th birthday when he or she can select a Medicare plan. “Once they choose a plan,” Stroup advises, “they are locked in. So I recommend that anyone aging into Medicare consult a specialist like our firm that can help make sure whatever they sign up for is right for the rest of their lives.”
Speir Financial Services, located in Southfield, MI, provides financial advising and insurance.
ObamaCareFacts.com, “ObamaCare Facts: Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Marketplace,” http://obamacarefacts.com
WIFE.com, “Maintaining Your Health Insurance After Divorce,” Michele Sacks Lowenstein. http://www.wife.org/lowenstein.htm