Maintaining Health Care Coverage After Divorce

If you and your children are covered by your spouse’s health insurance plan and you’re contemplating divorce, the time to consider how you will be covered after divorce is now.

Every year, 115,000 American women lose their health insurance after divorce, according to a University of Michigan study. Moderate-income women are most affected, since they earn too much to qualify for public programs like Medicaid, but not enough to afford their own insurance.

If you’ve been covered as a dependent, look into the availability and costs of other options such as your own employer-sponsored plan (which may allow off-season enrollment for life events such as divorce), COBRA coverage (an expensive option, but one that could allow continued coverage for up to 36 months after divorce), and individual health insurance (which can be hard to get with pre-existing health conditions until the 2014 provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act kick in). Planning ahead allows you to consider these costs in your divorce settlement negotiations.

Continuing coverage for the children may seem simple — just leave them as dependents on the current plan. But there are still factors to consider:

  • If you get your own insurance, who covers the children?
  • Are premium costs covered by one spouse or shared?
  • Who handles co-pays?
  • Who is responsible for unreimbursed medical, vision, dental and orthodontic expenses?
  • If the covering spouse becomes eligible for Medicare and drops private insurance before the kids leave the nest, how will they be covered?

Health care costs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to divorce negotiations. Contact a knowledgeable family law attorney for an in-depth look at your options.

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