If my former spouse agrees, can I stay on his or her employer-provided health insurance plan?
No. Once you are divorced, you are no longer “family” for the purposes of the family health insurance plan. Regardless of whether your spouse agrees, the health insurance company will not cover you on your former spouse’s family plan once the divorce is final.
I want to keep the same health insurance plan, but it was through my former spouse’s employer. Can I keep the same plan and pay the cost myself?
Yes. COBRA is a federal program that allows certain people to continue receiving health insurance when it might otherwise be lost due to a job loss or divorce. COBRA will allow you to keep the same plan you had before, but you should be aware that the premiums they charge will be much higher than the employer-provided plan. Additionally, COBRA is meant to be temporary, and only lasts up to 36 months. To take advantage of COBRA you must sign up within 60 days of your divorce.
If I can’t stay on my spouse’s family insurance plan, how will I get health insurance?
There are a few ways to obtain health insurance on your own. Usually the best way is to enroll in a plan through your employer, if possible. The plans available through an employer are usually more affordable. Another option is to purchase your own health insurance policy. Additionally, COBRA (discussed above) is an option for continuing health coverage.
I was a stay at home parent before the divorce, how will I pay for my own health insurance after the divorce?
Health insurance coverage is a significant expense for most families. As such, it is important to decide how ongoing health insurance premiums will be paid for after the divorce. Your divorce settlement can require your ex-spouse to pay the premiums for a certain period of time. Make sure you discuss this expense with your divorce attorney.
Will my children lose their health insurance coverage after we divorce?
No. Children may be covered under a parent’s employer provided health insurance plan, regardless of a divorce of the parents. Who will pay for the cost of the insurance coverage for the children should be decided in the divorce settlement.
Is there any way that I can stay on my ex’s health insurance plan?
Only if you are willing to stay married. Legal Separation is not available in New Jersey, although there is a kind of “limited divorce” called a Divorce from Bed and Board (link to article on Divorce from Bed and Board). With a Divorce from Bed and Board, a couple is still married, but their property may be divided and alimony may be granted. Since the couple is still legally married with a Divorce from Bed and Board, they may remain on the same family health insurance plan if the insurance company approves of the same.
Health insurance costs can be significant for families in New Jersey. Call Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for a free initial consultation to discuss your options.