Couples get divorced for many reasons. Even in long-term marriages, finances are a common factor. It is typical for one person to be a saver, while the other freely spends all the money.
However, some divorces, particularly among the elderly, are caused by medical debt. As people get older, medical expenses tend to mount. Some develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, which come with complications. Others suffer mobility issues or memory conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Many patients require around-the-clock care, which can cost several thousand dollars a month.
Medicare covers only so much. Most people do not have long-term care insurance, so their only recourse is to spend all their assets until Medicaid steps in. For a married couple, this means depleting all retirement accounts and other savings accounts. This leaves nothing for future expenses. It is sad to see a person work hard for many decades to save up for retirement, only to see it disappear because of medical expenses.
Are there any other options? Many couples, sadly, are considering medical divorce to save their money. While this can be a highly emotional decision, sometimes it makes good financial sense. While other options such as annuities and reverse mortgages can help couples tap into cash, these options do not stop the medical expenses from accruing. In just 2-3 years, a couple may go through more than $100,000 in medical debt. This can cause tremendous strain on a marriage.
This is a dilemma facing many older spouses, as people are living longer than ever but at the same time, dealing with serious medical conditions. In a medical divorce, one spouse would receive almost all the assets. This would make it so the ill spouse would qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid would then cover all the medical expenses so the spouse with all the assets would not have to spend their nest egg on medical bills.
Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act, enacted by President Obama in 2010, has helped to some degree. It does not allow discrimination due to pre-existing conditions. It also capped deductible and eliminated lifetime caps. It also made it so the ill spouse can more easily qualify for Medicaid without impacting the well spouse.
Want to prevent medical divorce? The best course of action is to be prepared. Purchase long-term care insurance now, while you are still healthy. You never know when you might need it. You’ll protect your health and your marriage in your senior years.
While loopholes in the law allow for a medical divorce, is it the only option? Many Americans seem to think so.
If you have a good marriage but feel you need to divorce due to financial necessity, contact the Columbia divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. We can help you understand your options so you can avoid divorce altogether. Schedule a free consultation by calling (410) 774-5987 or filling out the online form. We have two offices to serve you.
7310 Ritchie Highway, Suite 910
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
30 Corporate Center
10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Columbia, MD 21044