It is no secret that health care in the United States can be expensive. Health insurance can be complicated but usually helps to defray these considerable costs. Without health insurance, you could end up being stuck with a bill for tens of thousands of dollars or even more if you require health care. Accordingly, most Americans pay for health insurance to help cover their medical costs. During a marriage, it is exceedingly common for one of the parties to be covered under a policy provided through the employment of the other spouse. If the parties are getting divorced, the health insurance situation will have to change.
One of the most important issues to understand is that following a divorce, you cannot remain on your spouse’s employer-sponsored health plan as a dependent. This rule does not apply to your shared children, who may remain on the plan. This does not mean, however, that a court is not allowed to order your former spouse to reimburse you for the amount you now have to pay for purchasing health insurance elsewhere.
Although the judge cannot order that your spouse’s health insurance plan covers you as a dependent after a divorce decree, your spouse is not allowed to drop your from health insurance simply because he or she has filed for divorce. Your spouse is prohibited from removing or reducing your health care benefits during the divorce without specific permission from the judge.
If you are about to be dropped from health care coverage because of divorce, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or “COBRA,” can provide help. This is a federal program that requires your spouse’s employer to continue to provide you with health insurance benefits up to six months after the entry of the divorce decree. The significant drawback, however, is that paying for COBRA coverage can be exorbitantly expensive. In most cases, employers subsidize at least a portion of the monthly premium for an employee’s health insurance and that of his or her family. If you are insured through COBRA, the employer is not required to pay any portion of the health insurance premium, even if they did so before the divorce.
Divorce means big changes, including logistical issues such as health insurance. Contact us today to talk about your divorce and what we can do to help you.
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