How Divorce Affects Your Health Insurance

health care costsDivorce affects your entire life, from your family’s relationships to your health insurance. When it comes to divorce and health insurance, you have to take into consideration your children’s coverage as well as your own, especially, if you have minor children.  Though it’s common for one spouse to provide the family’s health insurance through work or an independent agency, health coverage for the ex-spouse and the children could end after the marriage.

We’ve outlined a few options for you if you are going through a divorce and need to secure health insurance for yourself or your children.

1.Include health insurance coverage in the divorce settlement.

You and your children’s health coverage doesn’t have to end after the divorce. In fact, some divorce settlement agreements insist that the spouse who maintains health coverage during the marriage must still provide coverage after the divorce. If the court orders this coverage, no insurer or employer can deny your access to your ex-spouse’s health insurance. Depending on the insurance  policy, the supporting spouse may have to pay additional premiums for covering the ex-spouse and the children.

2.COBRA and health insurance after divorce

If, for any reason, the spouse cannot continue health insurance coverage for you and the children, then COBRA, which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, requires your ex-spouse to keep health insurance for the children after the divorce. Your ex-spouse can also provide continued health insurance coverage for you if he or she works for a company that employs 20 or more people. If the company employs fewer than 20 people, you can apply for mini-COBRA coverage depending on the laws in your state; think of it as short term health insurance after the divorce. However, you must apply within 60 days after the divorce to maintain your eligibility for COBRA coverage.

3.COBRA coverage doesn’t last forever.

Though your ex-spouse may continue to provide you with health insurance coverage after the divorce, it’s not a permanent solution. COBRA coverage only lasts for 36 months, so you need to plan ahead and find new health insurance once the coverage ends. Afterward, search for an affordable independent health insurance plan, and compare prices with several providers. Furthermore, there’s no reason for you to name your children as dependents if they are covered by your ex-spouse’s group health plan.

4.Divorce and individual health insurance policies

If your ex-spouse’s employer insurance is not available and COBRA is winding down, you might want to look into individual health coverage.  With the Affordable Care Act, individual health policies work similarly to group policies. After you finalize your divorce, contact your insurance carrier and employer, who will terminate the old insurance policy for you and your ex-spouse. You then have to re-enroll or purchase health insurance from another provider. Though you can continue to use the same provider, you will have to purchase a new policy. Keep in mind that COBRA laws do not apply to individual health coverage policies.

The goal in providing this information is to show you that options for health insurance coverage are available to you after a divorce.

If you have additional questions, please contact Attorney Eric Cheshire at (561) 655-8844.  You can always ask a legal question on our website.  The form is on the left sidebar.  All questions and answers are kept confidential.

Thank you,
Attorney Eric C. Cheshire
West Palm Beach Family Law Attorney