Health Insurance and Divorce

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Health Insurance and Divorce

Divorces play havoc with a lot of things, and health insurance is right at the top of the list. Most families have an employer-provided plan that covers the whole family, and after a divorce, the spouse who carries the insurance can’t cover the other spouse anymore. There is COBRA coverage, but it can be costly. That leads a lot of couples to agree to separate, but to delay filing for divorce. A separation agreement can address custody, support and division of property issues.
Here are some different options when it comes to health insurance after a divorce:

• Employer-sponsored programs- are one of the best sources because they are often fully subsidized. There are indemnity plans, provider and preferred provider plans, or HMOs.
• Individual coverage- available straight from the insurance company, for individuals. These policies are good because they allow you to pick and choose the benefits you want. However, you have to pay for it yourself.
• Medicare- provides basic benefits for all US citizens over 65 with Part A coverage. Part B is a voluntary coverage for doctor visits, with premiums paid monthly. Medicare covers about half of the average person’s health care costs, but it can be augmented with Medigap insurance.
• COBRA coverage- federal law entitles you to keep your or your spouse’s health care plan even after a job loss or a divorce. If you were covered on a family plan before the dissolution of the marriage, then you are still covered under COBRA. However, the divorced spouse has to pay the premium themselves.

COBRA allows a divorced spouse to maintain their coverage. If an employer-sponsored program has good coverage, then it’s a good idea to keep it. COBRA lasts for 36 months, after which time the spouse must get their own insurance. In some limited circumstances, COBRA can be extended for an additional year and a half.

The cost-prohibitive nature of remaining on an ex-spouse’s health insurance plan leads a lot of couples to legally separate but not fully divorce. While that situation can be emotionally stressful and it can keep either partner from going on with their lives, it can be helpful if one or the other partner has a serious health condition and needs the insurance coverage.





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