Health insurance costs are a significant financial obligation for most Americans, but couples going through a divorce tend to feel the financial strain more acutely. Employer-provided health insurance plans only cover family members, such as the employee’s spouse or children. That means that once a couple is divorced, the ex-spouse can no longer be covered under the employee’s family insurance plan, since they are no longer considered family members. Several options exist for either maintaining or obtaining new health insurance coverage; some of them are discussed below.
Obtaining New Health Insurance Coverage After Divorce
After a divorce, an ex-spouse who was covered by the other spouse’s insurance plan will need to obtain his or her own health insurance coverage. Separate health insurance plans are typically more expensive than family plans, so it is important to keep in mind that health insurance costs are likely to rise after divorce and plan for it accordingly throughout the divorce process.
COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is a federal program that allows people in certain situations to maintain health insurance coverage once it has been lost. You may be more familiar with COBRA as a health insurance option for people who have lost a job, but it also allows former spouses to keep their insurance coverage after the divorce. COBRA coverage is temporary, usually a maximum of 36 months, and the premiums are often significantly higher than they were under the family plan. Continue reading