Health Insurance Options During Divorce
In addition to the emotional and legal exhaustion divorce can bring, there are matters such as health insurance that are not usually addressed during attorney visits but are critical to moving forward. It is important to know how your coverage will change once the divorce is final and what options are available. Your coverage of choice should be researched and decided on well in advance of a settlement to help make sure there are no coverage gaps.
First of all know that in most states if you are on your spouse's policy, you should usually be able to stay until the divorce is final. But also know that federal law dictates that health insurance coverage ends as soon as your divorce is final. It is not a vindictive move by your ex to cancel the insurance, he/she has no control over the matter. If not notified in a timely manner, you both could be found guilty of insurance fraud. Also be aware that many times insurance companies will only begin coverage on the first of the month, so keep that in mind if your divorce is finalized mid-month. You may want to have coverage already in place.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) law was passed to help individuals who are divorcing. It allows them to continue to get health insurance from their ex-spouse’s company if it has at least 20 employees, for three years after the divorce. The normal COBRA provision states that, if an employee is fired or leaves a job, he or she can get health insurance from that company for 18 months. However, in a divorce, it is extended to three years or 36 months. It is also important to note that if the company is not notified within sixty days of divorce, the company does not have to provide COBRA benefits.
COBRA is often very costly and it would normally be best to have as little dealing as possible with your ex-spouse’s business. Even though COBRA may be the best option to maintain health insurance in the short term, it is usually the most expensive option long term. Typically, you will not get the discounted group rate but will be charged the full rate.
INDIVIDUAL POLICY/AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: (Obamacare)
Cutting costs is usually at the forefront of thoughts following divorce, but the cost of healthcare is rising daily.The Affordable Care Act has provided other options for insurance that may be less costly and because pre-existing conditions can no longer be used to deny coverage, an individual policy whether private or federal may be a better option than COBRA. You would also not have to worry about finding new coverage when the 36 months are up.
If you are age 65 or older you will most likely be covered by Medicare but there are still some decisions to be made. Navigating the coverage options can be an overwhelming task, but there are Medicare specialists that can help you determine the best fit for your unique needs.
Research your current employer’s healthcare offering
Find a job that offers health insurance
Explore joining a HEALTH-SHARE or medical cost sharing ministries. They are a group of like-minded individuals that agree to come together and help each other pay their medical expenses. They offer faith-based programs for planning for unforeseen medical expenses such as https://www.chministries.org/ or https://www.medishare.com/