It’s no longer unusual for people in Connecticut to get divorced in their 50s, 60s and older. According to a 2022 study, more than a quarter of U.S. divorces involve spouses aged 65 and older, and more than a third included spouses over 50. As Americans live longer, generally healthier lives, they seem to be deciding they do not want to spend their golden years trapped in a marriage that is not working.
While divorce might benefit you at any stage of life, there is an uncomfortable reality to consider. As we get older, most of us will increasingly rely on medical care to maintain quality of life and keep us alive as long as possible. Having high-quality health insurance coverage is important for everyone, but especially seniors. Without health coverage, virtually nobody could afford expensive doctor’s visits, medication and other treatments, hospital stays or surgery.
Most married couples handle health insurance through work, often with both spouses on one spouse’s plan. And once they turn 62 or 65 (depending on whether they worked or their spouse was the breadwinner), they become eligible for Medicare. But a “gray divorce” near or after retirement can raise important questions about how both spouses will be covered for healthcare in the years to come — especially if you were always on your ex’s plan and are not old enough for Medicare yet.
Ways to keep yourself covered
Fortunately, you probably have options to keep yourself covered, including:
- Opting into COBRA coverage, if you used to be insured under your spouse’s work plan. COBRA is expensive and only lasts up to 36 months, but it could be a good stop-gap option if you are close to qualifying for Medicare.
- Buying your own private health insurance policy.
- Medicare, which you can qualify for both through earning enough work credits in your career or through your ex’s work history. You can qualify for spousal benefits based on a former spouse’s work credits as long as the marriage lasted at least ten years and your ex is at least 62 years old.
- If your ex still works, they might agree to keep you on their health plan as part of the property division settlement, perhaps in exchange for some asset or foregoing alimony.
Ensuring that you will continue to enjoy your best health for as long as possible is an important consideration while negotiating your divorce. A wise divorce attorney will understand that this is a priority for an older client and work to help keep them covered.