A complication that divorce lawyers know can affect many families during and after a divorce is health insurance coverage when it’s provided by one spouse.
Health insurance is a tricky divorce topic; however, with the right approach and good planning, spouses and children of divorce can retain this essential protection through laws set in place to protect them.
Health insurance and your specific need is an important discussion to have with your divorce attorney so that your divorce agreement contains the details necessary to have the health coverage you need.
How Does Health Insurance Work During A Divorce?
While your divorce is the process, you are technically still married and covered under your spouse’s health insurance plan.
The plan may not be changed and you may not be removed from it until after the divorce is finalized and have had the opportunity to obtain other coverage.
If you feel this could be a problem with your spouse, your divorce attorney can help you petition for a temporary order from the judge that will prevent your spouse from removing you or any children from the health plan prematurely.
How Does Health Insurance Work Once A Divorce Is Final?
Once your divorce is final, you will probably lose any health coverage provided to you through your spouse's ;employer.
Although some health insurance companies do allow former spouses to stay on the plan for a certain length of time, the state of Texas does not require this which makes it critical that you know this before the divorce is final.
The good news is that your children can stay on the plan indefinitely because they are your spouse’s children.
If necessary, your lawyer can ensure this is legally enforced by obtaining a Qualified Medical Support Order from the court.
Options for Post-Divorce Health Insurance
If you are not able to continue health coverage under your spouse’s policy and you don’t have that benefit through your own job, there are two options for obtaining new health coverage:
COBRA - You can get insurance through your spouse’s employer under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which allows that within 60 days of the divorce you can purchase insurance as a plan member for up to three years after the divorce. The downside is that COBRA coverage can be very expensive as you must pay the entire monthly premium yourself.
- Mini-COBRA - If you are not eligible for COBRA for some reason, you can get coverage through a state-sponsored plan for up to 9 months. If your COBRA coverage expires, you can gain an additional 6 months of coverage through this same state plan.
Who Pays For It All?
Regardless of whether you are covered by COBRA, join the state health insurance plan, or must obtain health insurance on your own, all of this comes at a cost to you.
This is why it’s so important to discuss it with your divorce attorney well ahead of finalizing the divorce so that whenever possible these costs can be negotiated as part of your divorce settlement.
Talk To A Divorce Lawyer
Eventually, you will need to obtain your own healthcare coverage through an employer or some other means.
Thankfully, Texas family law does protect you and your children from suddenly losing your coverage after a divorce and allow you to retain essential coverage while making any necessary health coverage changes.
Get through the health insurance headache by working with an experienced divorce attorney who can analyze individual needs based on your family situation and help you secure health insurance through and after your divorce!
Reynaldo Garza, III - Attorney at Law
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520