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Family & Divorce Law

Health Insurance in a Divorce Settlement

By Tolison & Williams / August 18, 2020

Who is responsible for health insurance coverage after a divorce? Can someone be required to cover an ex-spouse or their children? These are some of the most common concerns regarding health insurance in a divorce settlement. Rightfully so, since not every insurance company or policy will easily accommodate a change in marital status.

It's important to learn about your options prior to outlining the settlement agreement and signing the final version of the divorce decree. It could even end up being one of the issues that affect the overall cost of your divorce.

Your Rights - Coverage Through a Spouse’s Employer

First, you need to understand your spouse cannot punitively cancel your health insurance plan during the divorce proceedings. Colorado law also prohibits them from refusing to pay insurance premiums so the policy lapses. If there is going to be a change, there must be 14 days advance notice. Further, both parties must agree to any changes.

However, you’ll need to make arrangements to ensure you are covered by health insurance after the divorce unless coverage is part of your settlement.

How to Stay Insured After Divorce

You have a few options that may work for you. First, if your spouse has health insurance coverage through their employer, you may qualify for a COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). COBRA allows you to stay covered for up to 36 months. While you may end up paying a bit higher premiums, both you and your kids can stay fully insured.

You may also choose to obtain health care coverage through your employer, via the marketplace, or from the state. Divorce is a qualifying life event that allows you to apply for new health insurance coverage. Just be aware that you may have to meet income requirements to qualify for Medicaid.

What about Medicare? If your spouse qualifies for Medicare coverage, and you were married to them for more than ten years, you may be able to qualify for benefits under their coverage. However, there are conditions to this, and you must be 62 or older.

Finally, you may seek your own coverage through a private insurance company if neither of the above scenarios matches your case.

Who Will Pay For Health Insurance After The Divorce?

There is no automatic mechanism that forces one spouse to pay for the other’s insurance after a divorce. However, health insurance is something that could be negotiated in the divorce settlement.

When it comes to children, there are several possible scenarios that you can either negotiate directly with your spouse or do so through the courts:

  • One parent carries insurance, and the other reimburses for half of the premiums.
  • One parent is responsible for insuring the child, but the other covers deductibles and incidental medical expenses.
  • Both parents agree to split the premiums on a marketplace plan for the child.
  • Each parent maintains health insurance coverage for the child through their employer, and the parent with primary custody is considered to have the primary insurance.

Be aware that loss of employment or a change in financial circumstance doesn’t remove a parent’s obligation to provide health insurance, or to reimburse for those expenses. You would have to file for a change to the divorcee agreement if you do end up in a situation like this.

Keeping Everyone Healthy After a Divorce

Everybody wants to be sure that they will maintain decent health insurance coverage, and that their children will be protected as well. At the same time, you’ll also want health insurance obligations to be shared equitably. To get the best possible outcome, seek the help of a family law attorney. They will provide you with advice you can trust, and protect your interests!

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Tags: Divorce Family Law

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