Written by Jonathan Breeden
Divorce raises a lot of questions, like how to deal with health insurance during a divorce?
Jonathan Breeden has decades of experience helping men and women in North Carolina navigate the complexities of divorce. When Jonathan represents you, he won’t only focus on the obvious issues. He’ll also talk about things you might not have considered, like how your health, dental, life, disability, and other insurance policies need to change. He’ll answer all of your health insurance and divorce questions to prepare you for the future.
No, you can’t stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance after a divorce (though you might be allowed to remain on their plan during the divorce). If you were on your spouse’s employer-sponsored plan, your ex must inform their employer when the court finalizes the divorce. You might be eligible for COBRA coverage after losing an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.
Your spouse could drop you from their employer-sponsored plan without warning. If you’re worried about this, talk with your attorney about asking for a court order requiring your spouse to keep you on the plan until the divorce is final.
You and your ex-spouse are responsible for your own health insurance after a divorce is final. If your children were on your ex-spouse’s employer-sponsored or another insurance plan before, they could remain on it as long as your ex continues to pay the premiums.
If neither you nor your ex have employer-sponsored health care and must obtain coverage for your children elsewhere, then who is responsible for providing insurance can be negotiated as part of the divorce.
Health insurance is expensive, and it isn’t always the primary parent’s responsibility to shoulder that burden alone. Your lawyer will work with you and your spouse to determine who is responsible for providing coverage, paying the premiums, and handling out-of-pocket medical expenses.
There are several ways to enroll in health insurance after a divorce, including an employer-sponsored plan, coverage under COBRA, through your state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace, private health insurance, or Medicare/Medicaid, depending on your circumstances.
Whether or not COBRA is an option depends on whether it’s your ex-spouse’s employer has to offer it and whether you can afford it. Not all small businesses have to provide it. If it’s available, you have 60 days after the divorce is finalized to notify the plan administrator that you intend to pay for coverage. You’ll then be responsible for paying high premiums—one of the downsides of COBRA—but you could have coverage for up to 36 months.
If you need to purchase an insurance plan through your state’s marketplace (North Carolina uses the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov), Divorce might qualify you for a special enrollment period, but you must inform the marketplace within 60 days of your divorce.You also can purchase insurance privately on your own, though it’s typically more expensive.
If you’re older than 62 years old when you divorce, it’s smart to figure out whether you’re eligible for Medicare. Your eligibility depends on your age, work history, and if you were married at least 10 years, your ex-spouse’s work history, and other factors. Medicare.gov can calculate your eligibility and any premiums you’d need to pay.
You or your children might be eligible for Medicaid or Health Choice if you have a low income, have a disability, or are blind. If you sign up for insurance through HealthCare.gov, it will tell you if you’re eligible for Medicaid.
You can enroll yourself in Medicaid or your children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program at anytime of the year. You also can reach out to your local Division of Social Services with questions about enrolling yourself or your children in Medicaid or Health Choice.