Getting divorced is an emotionally charged and chaotic time. You’re probably worried about dividing your assets, possibly selling a house, and finding a child custody solution that works for you and your ex. But there’s one other important aspect you need to consider: Health insurance.
If you’ve received your health insurance through your spouse’s employment, then you may find yourself without insurance. Here’s what you need to know about handling health insurance during and after a divorce.
Loss of Health Insurance
Depending on how friendly you and your spouse are, he may be willing to let you stay on his insurance until the divorce becomes final. However, if you’re going through a tough divorce, then you should be prepared for the fact that your spouse may remove you from his coverage even before you’re officially divorced.
After you are officially divorced, you won’t be able to stay on your ex’s health insurance plan. This is a law, so even if your ex is open to the option, you’ll still be in need of your own health insurance.
The good news is that if you and your ex have children, they can stay on the existing health plan because they are related to your ex. This simplifies things a bit for you as you start looking for a new coverage.
A Short-Term Solution
After the divorce is final, you’ll be eligible for insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). COBRA allows you to continue your health insurance plan for a temporary period (up to 36 months) after an event such as involuntary job loss, while in transition between jobs, or after a divorce.
COBRA can give you health insurance coverage when you need it and may be a good short-term solution for you. However, be prepared to pay higher premiums – whereas an employer may have contributed to health insurance premiums for your family, while insured through COBRA, you’ll need to cover up to 102 percent of the premium.
Sourcing New Health Insurance
With COBRA, you’ll have short-term insurance coverage, but it’s a good idea to start looking for a long-term insurance option. You have a few different options when it comes to finding a new health insurance plan.
Insurance Through Your Employer
If you’re employed or job hunting, then your full-time employer needs to offer health insurance. The coverage and costs may vary, so if you’re job hunting, be sure to weigh this when you consider whether or not to take the position.
Currently employed? Then check in with your employer to learn about their health insurance and whether you’re eligible. If you’re working part-time, see if you can increase your employment to full-time so that you’ll be eligible to receive insurance. Because you’re signing up for insurance after a divorce, you can sign up outside of the open enrollment period.
Insurance Through a Health Insurance Company
If you’re not working or are self-employed, then you may need to shop for health insurance directly through a health insurance company. Shopping for health insurance on your own gives you more choices, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if you’re not well-versed with insurance terminology.
As you shop around, you’ll want to get multiple quotes and compare them. It’s important to look at many different factors, including the coverage, the deductible, applicable co-pays, medication costs and tiers, and more. You may find it easiest to create a spreadsheet so that you can compare the plans side-by-side.
Feeling overwhelmed? Health insurance agents can help. Agents often represent multiple companies and can help you to find the plan that’s best for your needs. Agents receive commissions from the insurance plans that they sell, so you’ll want to find a reputable agent who you can trust to work in your best interests. Because agents want you to buy a plan, they can help to guide you to plans that you’ll likely be eligible for.
Understanding Medicare and Divorce
We’ve covered traditional insurance plans, but what about Medicare? You and your spouse may still qualify for Medicare after a divorce. However, there are a number of conditions that need to be met.
Planning for the Future
Health insurance is an important investment in both your health and in your own finances. A serious illness or injury can leave you with devastating medical bills, so though it may be tempting to simply go without insurance during or after a divorce, that may not be a wise choice.
With options like COBRA, you can get short-term health insurance to carry you through the most hectic time of your divorce. Then, once things have calmed down and you have some time to revisit your insurance options, you can take your time and choose a health insurance plan that works best for you.
Lindsay Engle is the Healthcare Expert at MedicareFAQ, a learning resource center for senior healthcare. Lindsay loves working in the senior healthcare industry. Aside from her job, she has a great passion for animals and loves boating. In her spare time, she enjoys snuggling on the couch with her pets as well as fishing with her boyfriend. Follow Lindsay on Twitter