Marital Disruption and the Risk of Loosing Health Insurance Coverage

James B. Kirby, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), DHHS

Health insurance coverage in the United States is currently provided by a complex, uncoordinated mix of public and private sources. As a result, drastic changes in coverage eligibility and affordability accompany many common life course events. Marital disruption is one such event. With many individuals obtaining health insurance coverage through their spouse’s employer and approximately 50% of marriages ending in divorce, marital disruption is an important risk factor for losing health insurance coverage. This study uses the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys to estimate the extent to which marital transitions affect the risks of loosing health insurance, and the duration of elevated risk. Preliminary results based on hazard-rate models suggest that marital disruption doubles the risk of insurance loss and that this elevated risk lasts for 24 months. The analysis, however, also shows that marriage has a similar effect, calling into question any simple explanations based on eligibility for employer-sponsored coverage.

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Presented in Poster Session 5