Married to Your Health Insurance: The Relationship Between Marriage, Divorce and Health Insurance

Jamie C. Rubenstein, Cornell University
Elizabeth Peters, Cornell University

We investigate the relationship between divorce and health insurance coverage for men, women, and children in the U.S. Because many individuals are covered as dependents on their spouse’s health insurance policy, divorce is likely to be an important source of insurance loss. Health insurance for children may be addressed in child support agreements, so divorce also is relevant to understanding coverage for children. We use panel data from various years of the Survey of Program Participation to show the incidence of health insurance coverage before and after a divorce and changes in the type of health insurance (employer-primary, employer-dependent, other private, and public). We focus on how these patterns change with duration since divorce and identify the mechanisms that might lead to this effect (e.g., remarriage, employment, child support, and welfare). We find that coverage after divorce declines by 13 percentage points for women and 10 percentage points for men.

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Presented in Session 175: Union Status Changes and Health