My spouse has a health plan through his work, will I still be covered by the plan after we divorce?
Continuation of health insurance is one of the most important problems that couples face when they divorce. Because there have been some changes to the health care laws under President Obama, changes that are being challenged and at this time still remain as open questions, I am restricting my answer to health care for divorced couples as treated under COBRA (Comprehensive Omnibus Reconciliation Act), the Federal Act that covers continuation health care coverage for terminated and divorced employees and their families.
Under COBRA, a divorced spouse is able to continue coverage under the same plan as he/she has been covered during the marriage for 36 months following the finalization of the divorce. While the cost of health insurance and the benefits will remain the same as it was before the divorce, the divorced spouse is required to pay the employer’s share of the health insurance, costing up to 102% of the actual cost of his/her individual health insurance. The only way to know what that cost will be is to contact your spouse’s employer through the benefits or HR department to get a quote for the health insurance costs for an individual policy under COBRA. This cost may be paid by the employed spouse as part of the divorce settlement, or paid by the spouse who was covered during the marriage.
An often overlooked fact is that in for those 55 or over COBRA provides divorced spouses continuation health insurance coverage until that person reaches eligibility for Medicare, presently at the age of 65. This is an important fact to know for divorcing spouses who may have health issues that would preclude their being able to obtain independent health insurance after the divorce. Keep in mind that COBRA only covers health insurance for businesses that have 20 or more covered employees. If your spouse’s firm has less than that amount, your health insurance post-divorce is likely to have the same requirements for cost, but may only extend for 18 months post-divorce.
Sandra M Rosenbloom concentrates on Mediation and Collaborative Family Law at her Northfield, IL office.