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How does divorce affect your health insurance?

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Divorce

There’s no question that health care costs are insanely high in this country – even if you have insurance. Without insurance, your entire financial picture may crumble under the weight of a single hospital bill, and you may be forced to go without regular medical care and medications.

It’s critical, then, to understand how divorce will affect your health insurance if you’re covered under your spouse’s plan. Here are the basics to keep in mind:

You’ll lose your current health insurance when the divorce is final

Courts usually require spouses with health insurance to continue covering their dependent spouse and children during the divorce process. While the children can remain on your spouse’s insurance plan even after the divorce is final, dependent spouses are offered no such grace.

Most insurance policies will terminate a dependent spouse’s insurance within 30 days of the divorce’s final decree, leaving you with the options of:

  • Obtaining insurance through your own employer, if that is offered (and you work full-time)
  • Obtaining COBRA coverage, which allows you to keep your current coverage for up to 18 months (and occasionally longer, up to 36 months) by paying the entire premium, including any portion your spouse’s employer may have paid before
  • Obtaining coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace (Obamacare) on your own. You go into a special enrollment period once the divorce is final, which allows you to sign up for coverage without a wait.

None of these options are without cost, which is why insurance issues have to be negotiated clearly. Depending upon your age, health and ability to work, you may not be able to afford any of these options unless the cost is factored into your divorce settlement. 

When you’re facing a divorce, there are simply too many different issues that have to be considered to risk going through the process without legal assistance.