YOU ASK:

How does divorce affect health insurance?

WE ANSWER:

One thing's for sure, divorce will definitely affect health insurance.

Married couples usually have one health insurance policy (which may be under one spouse's employer-sponsored plan) and this will need to change when they get a divorce. What could happen is that one spouse can stand to lose the coverage that he or she has previously enjoyed. This is because he or she is no longer considered as a dependent or as one of the employer's family members.

Having said that, it is important that even when husband and wife part ways, they should ensure that they are covered, particularly if they have children. This is especially if the spouse that will lose the coverage is the one with the custody of the children (whether full custody or partial custody). Imagine the financial implications should this spouse become sick or hurt in an accident.

When you and your spouse are considering divorce, you should also look into how you can prepare so that both spouses are left with health insurance:

  • Request health insurance as part of the divorce settlement. You can still be able to get partial compensation for your spouse's coverage.
  • Continue coverage under your spouse's coverage. This is a temporary setup. COBRA or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allows you to stay under your ex-spouse's coverage for up to three years, unless you get married before those three years are over or are able to obtain health insurance from your own employer.
  • Get cover from your employer. There are times when you have the option to have health insurance through your employer but have opted to be covered under your spouse's health coverage. Now that you are getting divorced, you can ask your current employer to provide you with coverage. However, you will have to buy the cover for an individual policy, rather than for a group policy.
  • Buy an insurance plan through the individual market. Ask your insurance agent for advice to help you get set up with your own health insurance plan.
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