Health Insurance and Divorce: What You Should KnowApril 15, 2016
Going through a divorce is already a very difficult and painful time. With so many emotions involved, it’s tough to address all of the practical details of separating two intertwined lives—especially if children, joint finances, or property are involved.
One such detail which often slips people’s minds during a separation is the issue of health insurance. If you were previously covered by your spouse’s health insurance plan, you probably have some questions about transitioning to your own plan and ensuring that you aren’t hit with extra medical expenses.
Get Legal Advice
If you have already retained the services of a lawyer, it’s best to discuss health insurance considerations with him or her. In some cases, you may be able to seek a court order to remain on your ex spouse’s health insurance plan. Of course, you will have to cover the cost of your own coverage, but this is the best option if you have a preexisting condition which would limit your ability to get your own comprehensive health insurance plan.
In some cases, if one ex spouse forces the other off of their health insurance plan, the uninsured person can seek compensation for additional costs incurred. For example, if Mr. and Mrs. Smith divorce, Mrs. Smith has a preexisting condition requiring expensive medication, and Mr. Smith removes her from his health insurance plan (leaving her unable to medically qualify for coverage of the medication), it would be important for Mrs. Smith to ask a lawyer what her options may be.
If your separation is amicable, your ex spouse may be willing to keep you on their group benefits plan to help cover your preexisting condition. Do not, however, think of this as a long term solution—chances are, at some point in the future one or both of you will find a new partner and perhaps remarry, meaning new health insurance arrangements would have to be made.
If you are still a healthy adult and are able to medically qualify for your own health insurance plan, I would urge you to do so in the case of a divorce. Getting your own plan ensures your future financial protection regardless of your marital status. And you should get it right away—if you become uninsured and exceed a waiting period of 90 days (or another period specified by your new insurer), you may receive limited benefits for a period of time.
Protect Your Children
If both you and your ex spouse now have individual health insurance plans, decide how you will provide coverage for your children. It’s wonderful if you can do this amicably, and many health insurance plans can work together to provide maximum benefits for your children.
In the event that you cannot come to a mutual agreement, you may need a lawyer to work out the terms of your children’s health insurance coverage. Remember—even if the end of your marriage was unpleasant, the most important thing is ensuring the healthy future of your children.
Talk To A Trusted Advisor
As I said at the beginning of this post, divorce is a painful and uncertain process. I hope that you will never experience it—but, if you do, I’m here to give you the advice you need about your health insurance options. Contact me anytime to talk about your unique insurance requirements.