Health insurance coverage and medical bills can be major financial considerations for spouses going through a divorce. A divorce will frequently affect health insurance coverage. A divorce lawyer can help you assess your health insurance options after divorce.
Health insurance is available through many sources. For purposes of this post, here are some relevant terms:
- “Private insurance” will refer to insurance obtained through an employer or by purchase in the marketplace.
- “Public insurance” will refer to plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- “Employee Spouse” will refer to the spouse who has insurance through his or her employer.
- “Dependent Spouse” will refer to the spouse without coverage available through employment.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH HEALTH INSURANCE WHEN YOU DIVORCE?
During the Divorce
When one spouse starts the divorce process, health insurance usually remains in effect while the divorce is pending. Most courts prohibit the Employee Spouse from removing the Dependent Spouse from health insurance during the divorce process. A divorce lawyer can also request orders from the court to ensure the health insurance remains in effect, such as an order requiring one spouse to pay the insurance premiums.
After the Divorce
Once the spouses finalize the divorce, private health insurance coverage for the Dependent Spouse will typically end effective on the date of divorce. However, the private health insurance coverage will remain in effect for any children of the marriage if ordered by the court.
WHAT ARE INSURANCE OPTIONS AFTER DIVORCE?
After the divorce, the Dependent Spouse has several options. Insurance coverage may be available through a public source, such as Medicare or CHIP. This availability will depend on the spouse’s age, any disability, and his or her income, among other factors. If the Dependent Spouse seeks employment after the divorce, employer-sponsored insurance plans may be an important part of a job search.
The Dependent Spouse will also likely be eligible for COBRA coverage under federal law. This allows the Dependent Spouse to temporarily keep health insurance coverage under his or her ex-spouse’s plan. This is often a more expensive option, because the employer will no longer pay for any portion of the insurance coverage. The Dependent Spouse has a limited time to enroll in COBRA coverage after finalization of the divorce.
WHO PAYS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE IN A DIVORCE?
For the Children
The court will order one or both parents to provide health insurance for any minor children. These orders will include:
- Which parent will maintain health and dental insurance;
- Which parent pays for the health and dental insurance;
- What happens if there is a change in insurance coverage; and
- How the parents will share medical costs not covered by insurance.
For the Dependent Spouse
Texas law does not include any requirement that the Employee Spouse pay for ongoing health insurance for the Dependent Spouse. However, the cost of health insurance after the divorce can be a consideration in the division of property. Also, if the Dependent Spouse is eligible for spousal support (a.k.a. alimony), the cost of health insurance can be a factor in awarding this support.
Become Informed About Options
Through the divorce process, your divorce lawyer can work with you to explore your options for coverage after divorce. This can include learning about the cost of COBRA coverage or working with a private insurance agent to learn about coverage options.
Schedule Appointments Now
If there is a concern about maintaining health insurance, it may be prudent to schedule necessary medical appointments while coverage remains in effect.
In a mediated settlement agreement, spouses may agree to a temporary amount of spousal support to offset the cost of health insurance. This can serve as a bridge between the divorce and the spouse finding new employment.
Payment for health insurance coverage and spousal support could be included in a post-marital agreement to ensure coverage after divorce.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Here at NMSB, we can help divorcing spouses assess the cost and availability of health insurance after divorce. Please contact our office and schedule an appointment to discuss your options further.