Dissolving your marriage can - and probably will - change your life in a multitude of ways. One of the consequences of divorce that many divorcees don't account for is how insurance arrangements could change post-marriage. Today, we're covering how your healthcare insurance policy may change once you finalize your divorce.
We help clients pursue optimal outcomes in their divorces. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (310) 455-8364.
Will I Be Able to Stay on My Spouse's Healthcare Plan (or Vice Versa)?
During marriage, many people share insurance plans and other memberships or subscriptions. One of the most common questions married individuals often have during divorce is something along the lines of "can I keep using my spouse's healthcare insurance, or can they use mine?"
Once your divorce is finalized, you can no longer share a health insurance plan with your spouse. If you are on their plan, you will be dropped from it. If they are on yours, they will be dropped.
This also applies to employer-provided insurance - your employer won't allow you to continue using your ex-spouse's health insurance plan after you finalize your divorce.
For this reason, some couples choose to separate instead of filing for divorce, since in many states, separated individuals can still share a healthcare plan. This is also the case in California - if you legally separate from your spouse, you can still share a family healthcare plan even though you aren't living together.
What If I Lose Healthcare Insurance During My Divorce?
If you lose healthcare insurance during your divorce, you have a few options:
If you are employed, you may be able to obtain healthcare insurance through your employer.
Typically, employers require employees to sign up for insurance during specific periods of the year, but can waive that requirement for significant life events - such as a divorce. Contact your employer's human resources department to ask about your insurance options.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
If your spouse is currently employed with a company that has 20 or more employees, you may be able to apply for a healthcare insurance plan through your spouse's employer under COBRA.
The details of this plan can vary on a case-by-case basis, and it's typically intended as a stop-gap measure until you can find another insurance plan that covers your needs more comprehensively. You will need to file for COBRA insurance within 60 days of finalizing your divorce, or you will not be eligible for insurance under COBRA.
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Individuals who do not have access to employer-provided health coverage can still obtain healthcare insurance through the ACA. Like COBRA, you have 60 days upon being divorced to apply for coverage through the ACA using the divorce as a "qualifying life event" that justifies the issuance of a healthcare plan.
However, unlike COBRA, if you miss that deadline, you won't be locked out of obtaining insurance through the ACA forever - you'll just need to wait for the annual open enrollment period to start (typically around November or December).
What Kind of Healthcare Policy Should I Pursue?
There are three major types of healthcare insurance plans: HMOs, PPOs, and POSs.
HMO plans only cover care from in-network physicians but typically have lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs than other types of plans.
PPOs cover care from both in and out-of-network physicians, and offer access to a wide range of physicians. You can obtain in-network care for a lower cost, but out-of-network charges may be greater.
POSs cover both in and out-of-network care as well. However, unlike PPO plans, POS plans often come with no deductible. POS plans often have fewer options than PPO plans, and, as a result, typically have lower premiums.
Additionally, different healthcare plans often have different lifespans. If you want healthcare insurance quickly, for example, but don't want to commit to a specific plan, a short-term policy may be perfect for you. Otherwise, you may want a more long-term plan.
If you're shopping for a healthcare policy through your employer, it's important to note that your human resources department probably cannot give you advice concerning what plan is best for you due to legal restrictions. If you have questions about different policies, you should either contact the policy provider or an official third party such as a healthcare professional at healthcare.gov to have your questions answered.
Navigating a divorce can be difficult, but hopefully, this blog made one aspect of yours a little easier.
We can help usher you through the divorce process, ensuring you pursue the best outcome for your short and long-term future. To schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about our services, contact us online or via phone at (310) 455-8364