Health Insurance Benefits and Divorce

Very often when a couple divorces, the dependent spouse loses health insurance coverage because most families have an employer provided and/or paid for health insurance benefits that cover health insurance for the entire family. The worker spouse with the family health insurance coverage can no longer cover the other dependent spouse because they are no longer an intact family.

One option for divorcing couples is for the dependent spouse to obtain COBRA coverage. COBRA gives someone covered under an employer family plan the right to continue that coverage, at his or her own cost, for a set time period. For example, if a husband and wife a divorce and the husband had family health insurance coverage through his employer, then the employer must provide COBRA coverage for the wife after the divorce. That COBRA coverage gives the wife the same health insurance policy, although her coverage is individual and not family. She now pays the employer’s cost for that individual policy. COBRA coverage is very expensive.

If the cost of COBRA benefits or an alternative health insurance policy is too great, a couple can enter into a separation agreement but delay filing for divorce. The parties remain married and stay on the same health insurance plan; however, they are separated. They wait for one, two or more years before filing, but their property, custody, and support issues will be addressed in their separation agreement.

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