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Protecting Your Health Insurance When You Get Divorced

An important but sometimes overlooked issue during a divorce is how to protect access to health insurance afterward.

In the United States, health insurance for a family is often tied to one spouse’s employment and requires that a couple be married in order for coverage to apply to both individuals. The prospect of losing this coverage after a divorce can be problematic, particularly if one party is not working and does not have easy access to an alternative health insurance plan. There are several options for divorcing spouses seeking to preserve health insurance, including the following:

  1. Utilize a divorce settlement — You may be able to negotiate continued health insurance coverage as part of a divorce settlement. If your spouse has an employer-sponsored plan, he or she needs to reach out to their employer and insurance carrier to confirm that they are permitted to include health insurance in a divorce settlement. Your spouse also needs to find out about any additional fees or charges that may be imposed. If possible, continuation of your benefits under the plan can be the quickest and easiest method for maintaining health insurance coverage.
  2. COBRA coverage — An alternative temporary option is to utilize COBRA coverage after a divorce. COBRA is a law that permits an individual who would suddenly lose health plan coverage, such as through divorce, to maintain coverage under that plan for up to 36 months. Once you enroll in a new plan, or the 36 months expires, COBRA coverage will end. While COBRA assures that a spouse will not be left without coverage, it is also very expensive and may not be an ideal solution for all parties.
  3. Employer or marketplace plans — A spouse losing health insurance may also pursue their own health insurance policy. If employer-sponsored insurance is an option, divorce typically qualifies for a special enrollment, allowing an individual to enroll outside of the normal enrollment period. If employer sponsored insurance isn’t available, a spouse who loses health insurance due to divorce is eligible for a 60-day special enrollment period when obtaining a private insurance plan on the open marketplace.

If you are concerned about losing insurance during your divorce and wondering which options might be best for you, a knowledgeable Rhode Island divorce attorney can help you to evaluate the pros and cons and work with you to avoid any interruptions in health insurance coverage.

At Kirshenbaum Law Associates, Inc. in Cranston, we assist Rhode Island residents in all aspects of divorce. If you have questions or need representation, please call our office at 401-467-5300 or contact us online anytime.