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Does "ObamaCare" About Divorce?

Marriage is arguably the most comprehensive and complex financial planning tool available.


By Elizabeth Cox

Marriage is arguably the most comprehensive and complex financial planning tool available. With the words “I do” a couple is granted powers to transfer assets between each other without tax consequences, contribute to spousal IRAs (within IRS limits), and generally gain health insurance coverage through a spouse’s employer. In an America that hails the merits of individualism, marriage is socialism for a party of two.

Consequently, divorce can often lead to far more financial upheaval than simply the results of dividing assets, liabilities, income and expenses. Budgets of dependent or self/part-time employed spouses often have to include painfully expensive allowances for individual health care policies or a steep increase in insurance premiums in an ex-spouse’s employer plan under COBRA (Consolidated Business Reconciliation Act). If a dependent spouse has a pre-existing medical condition, divorce can have devastating consequences. In fact, according to a 2008 New York Times article, one in ten couples cite health insurance as a primary reason they get married to begin with. It is also a reason many couples stay married even when perhaps they would prefer to divorce.

But with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, the need to marry for health care coverage and the divorce health care penalty are expected to diminish. In short, the Affordable Care Act seeks to provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans through establishing American Health Benefit Exchanges and prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions.

While those who receive health insurance coverage through their employers can
continue doing so, individuals without access to employer plans can participate
in Exchanges to be established by each state by 2014. Those in lower income brackets would qualify for refundable tax credits to help pay for the cost of participating in these Exchanges. There are a host of preventive care services that would be available through these Exchanges without any co-pays. The consequence of many of these measures is that individuals without access to employer plans will have more affordable health care options than they do
currently and there will no longer be discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, including being female. That’s right. In many states including my home state of Connecticut, insurance companies consider being female a pre-existing condition and charge higher premiums accordingly!

The conservative columnist, Ann Coulter, recently appeared on Fox News and said that single women look to the government to be their husbands. While she was referring to government services women utilize for their children  ike pre-natal care and pre-school care, her argument could extend to Obamacare. By 2014, Insurance marriages could become a thing of the past.

Elizabeth Cox is President of Cox Financial Services, LLC is a Fee-Only financial planning and Registered Investment Advisory firm headquartered in Westport, CT. She specializes in divorce financial planning, retirement planning, and tax planning and preparation. Ms. Cox is a member of the Garrett Planning Network and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).

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"Divorce Information Now" is an ongoing column where readers can submit questions about divorce in the comment stream and we will respond in subsequent blogs. Find us at http://www.divorceinformationnow.com/ "

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Stephanie Paulmeno, MS, RN, NHA October 04, 2012 at 11:56 AM
What a great perspective to share about a previously unwritten about aspect of the Affordable Care Act, also now commonly known as Obamacare. As a health care professional, a strong advocate for "the better half", and a candidate for State office, I was so happy to see this new slant on how the Affordable Care Act will further help women. With over 50% of marriages now ending in divorce this has huge implications and I would urge woment to listen up. We have a great deal riding on so many issues that will be impacted by the outcome of the presidential(and local) races. Remember that another issue is your reproductive rights. About twenty states, with 10 more pending, have already implemented forced vaginal ultrasounds, with mind games attached, in an effort to dissuade a woman from getting an abortion FOR ANY REASON. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations of women to be really careful about who and what we vote for. Hard won rights that we have come to take for granted, and now we've learned that yet another aspect of our financial security, rides on our vote, this time tied to Obamacare. Thanks for the article Elizabeth Cox!
maddi winkles October 05, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I am so glad to see the groundbreaking benefits ACA will provide for Americas finally be made known to the public. Especially for women, ACA is a virtual panacea. And rightfully so. As Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Obama administration designed a plan which recognizes that women take care of their families first and put off their own health care needs when they can't afford it. With the Affordable Care Act, that will no longer happen. Now whether you're divorced, have a pre-exiting condition, have had a lapse in coverage, any the situations which now prohibit women (or men) from buying health insurance in the Individual market (not through an employer) are TOTALLY ELIMINATED. Under Romney"s plan, this is not true. His plan is what we now have. Period. Worse he wants to hand over health care totally to States' control where even the services now in place, can be taken away with no recourse to stop them. Thank you Elizabeth for this informative article. Women need to vote for candidates who support ACA, for themselves, for their families and for our country
Divorce Information NOW October 05, 2012 at 08:09 PM
You are so right. On airplanes, women are always told to put on their oxygen masks before helping their children .Isn't it interesting that women have to be told to take care of themselves
something to think about October 05, 2012 at 08:34 PM
@Divorce -- "On airplanes, women are always told to put on their oxygen masks before helping their children." No, they say "Parents put your oxygen masks on first." Almost all parents would put themselves in harm's way to protect their children. Airlines don't say this because "women have to be told to take care of themselves," but because it should take just seconds for them to put on their own mask, but they may have to struggle to get the oxygen masks on their children (especially if they are toddlers) and if the adult doesn't have their own on yet, they may pass out for a lack of oxygen.

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