August 2009 Archives

August 31, 2009

Health Care Costs Encourage Divorce--For Economic Purposes Only

We're all familiar with the concept of a "marriage of convenience," where partners marry for reasons more practical than romantic. But in the current economy there's now an increase in what could be seen as a divorce of convenience--or even of necessity, with marriage becoming another casualty of the broken health care system.

A New York Times opinion piece this week illustrates the most common scenario: contentedly married spouses encountering the certainty of future health care costs that they simply can't afford discover that divorce is the only way to avoid financial ruin. In this case, a middle-aged husband has early-onset dementia, with a prognosis of degenerative mental function until he becomes unable to care for himself and must be institutionalized. On the advice of a social worker, the hospital where he receives care, and an attorney, his wife filed for divorce. The alternative was losing all of their joint and her separate assets as his health care gradually becomes more expensive. The wife continues to live with and care for her husband, but legally, they are not married and she is not responsible for his medical costs.

Medical costs are by far the leading cause of personal bankruptcy, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Medicine.
August 3, 2009

Divorce Not Conducive to Good Health

It seems that divorce is not only stressful and difficult in the short term--according to a New York Times article about a new study, both divorce and the death of a spouse can have long lasting negative health effects.

It's long been known that married people are healthier than non-married people, but this University of Chicago study concludes that losing a spouse can contribute to health problems that last for the rest of a person's life and aren't mitigated by remarrying. In fact, the never-married people ended up healthier than those who married and then lost a spouse to death or divorce.

On the other hand, it's not healthy to stay in a bad marriage, either. An Ohio State study about the effects of marital strife on healing showed that after an argument, physical wounds took longer to heal.