It’s not uncommon for one spouse in a marriage to provide the medical insurance coverage for the entire family. In many cases, one spouse has an employer offering group coverage while the other doesn’t, or the coverage is much more affordable through one spouse’s employer than the other’s.
But, what happens to your health insurance after you get divorced? In some situations, one spouse may not have access to affordable health coverage. There are several things to consider and a few options.
Employer-Group Coverage Doesn’t Cover an Ex-Spouse
When your spouse was the one providing health insurance coverage during the marriage, it can be challenging to think about living without this benefit. Unless your employer also offers coverage, you’ll need to look at other alternatives.
Employer group coverage won’t extend to ex-spouses, so your coverage will terminate once your divorce is final, or earlier if your spouse removes you from the plan.
If your spouse works at a company with 20 or more employees, federal law makes coverage available to you under COBRA. Specifically, you would be eligible to continue coverage under that same plan for up to 36 months. You must notify your spouse’s employer within 60 days of your divorce or legal separation to sign up for this coverage.
Medicare for Divorced Spouses
Medicare requirements can be complex. But, if you are close to the age where you would qualify for coverage, you should understand your rights to get Medicare after divorce.
Many individuals find that they qualify for Medicare Part A benefits through their former spouse, even if they haven’t met the work requirements themselves. To get these healthcare benefits, here are some of the conditions you’ll need to meet:
- You remain unmarried
- You are at least 62 years old
- Your former spouse is at least 62 years old and is eligible for Social Security benefits
- You were married for at least 10 years
Even if you qualify by meeting these conditions, you might still need a Medicare supplement policy to fill in any gaps in coverage.
Getting Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act has certain open enrollment periods each year, where people can sign up for affordable health care plans. But, you can qualify for a special enrollment period anytime you experience a qualifying life event such as a divorce, losing health coverage, having COBRA expire, or moving a residence. Your special enrollment period lasts for 60 days after your divorce is finalized.
Putting Insurance Into Your Divorce Settlement
Health insurance can also be included in your divorce settlement. Assuming you were getting health insurance coverage through your spouse, you can have your divorce attorney negotiate a settlement in which your ex will continue to pay for insurance covering you and your children for a specified period.
There are other ways to retain your health insurance in Washington State. For example, some couples opt for legal separation instead of divorce to avoid one spouse losing certain benefits like health insurance.
Even if you do divorce, there should be continuing insurance coverage available for your minor children. As experienced family law attorneys, AB Law can help your sort through the complex issues you’ll face during separation and divorce in Washington State. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.