Before the ACA, divorce was difficult for some spouses, especially those who may have been out of the workforce for a significant period of time in order to care for children or aging parents. Since health insurance was tied to employment, difficulty finding adequate employment not only created financial hardships, it also created a health insurance vacuum. The problem of finding health insurance was made even more difficult and expensive for those with pre-existing conditions.
The government does have a program called COBRA in place for those who lose health insurance, but COBRA is only available for 36 months after someone is removed from a policy. Before the ACA, individuals could buy an insurance policy, but these individual policies were sometimes prohibitively expensive and were also subject to cancelation at any time. Since the bills resulting from a health care crisis could cause great financial strain, many couples either stayed together simply to remain covered under a health care policy, or divorcing couples would put health insurance on the negotiating table during a divorce.
Negotiating for health insurance is becoming less important due to the ACA. According to one expert, divorcing spouses were sacrificing alimony or marital assets in order to retain coverage. Now, these sacrifices may no longer be necessary. A family law attorney may be able to advise those considering divorce on how the ACA will affect their health insurance situations.