If you have children, they will probably still be insured on your husband’s insurance policy. But the ex-wife most often loses health insurance, after the final decree. Depending on her age, physical condition, and location, individual comprehensive medical insurance, for one person, can run $800 a month and more.
Davis Liu, MD, the author of “Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America's Healthcare System,” has these suggestions for women facing divorce.
Consider an HAS
The Health Savings Account (HSA) was introduced in 2004. If you are young and healthy, if you don’t need to see a doctor very often, an HAS might be perfect. It allows you to set aside money, tax-free, to pay for future health care costs. An HSA has low premiums, but a high deductible. Funds go in tax-free, grow tax-free, and are spent tax-free. Your take-home pay is higher, your taxable income is lower, and it can save you up to 30 percent on out-of-pocket medical costs.
Short Term Health Insurance
Recent divorcees who have lost health coverage with their ex might consider short-term health insurance. This is catastrophic coverage, not to cover routine office visits, but to guarantee that you won’t lose the house if you need to go to the hospital because you were in a car accident. You can look through individual or short-term insurance plans at www.ehealthinsurance.com.
Part-Time Job with Benefits
If you are unemployed, you can consider part-time work for an employer that provides benefits. Companies like Starbucks, UPS, Costco, and Whole Foods Market provide health insurance to part-time employees. With increasing health care costs, these firms are becoming the exception rather than the norm.
Do Your Research
Refer to the NCQA website at www.ncqa.org to research insurance plans. PPOs, HMOs, Medicare, and Medicaid programs are rated on access and customer service; the providers; programs provided by the plan to improve and/or maintain health; and services in place to help those members with chronic illnesses like diabetes and asthma. Fortune 500 companies, state, and federal governments use NCQA report cards to determine which health insurance plans to offer their employees.
Good Health Leads to Wealth
The most powerful financial asset you have is your ability to earn money. That is worth more than your home or investment portfolio. Divorcees must protect this future earning potential with health insurance coverage, because the leading cause of personal bankruptcy is medical bills. You may not be expecting in illness, but unintentional injuries, say from a motor vehicle accident, are a leading cause of hospitalization and death. There is always a good chance that you will need a doctor’s care – no matter how healthy you are.
If you care about yourself, you must protect your health. Ask friends, go online, check out organizations (like AARP, if you are over 50). Health insurance can be found, if you look for it.
And remember that the lower the monthly cost, the higher the deductible, the amount you must pay out of pocket, is likely to be.
“Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America's Healthcare System” was published by Stetho in December, 2007. Dr. Liu’s blogs about health can be found here.
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