Health Insurance and Divorce
Health insurance coverage is among the many financial matters affected by a divorce in NJ. Many married couples are covered by a family health insurance plan through one spouse’s employer. Once the couple is divorced the spouse who was covered by the other’s health insurance plan will need to figure out how to obtain his or her own health insurance coverage.
It is important to understand that non-spouses cannot be covered by an employer’s health insurance plan. Even if the divorcing spouses have a good relationship and wish to stay on the same health insurance plan, once the divorce is final, the ex-spouses are no longer family and cannot be covered as family members. This is why you need to consult with a NJ divorce attorney if you are thinking about a divorce..Options for Maintaining Health Insurance Coverage
There are several options for obtaining health insurance coverage for the non-employee spouse.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal program that allows covered employees, former spouses, and dependent children to be offered health insurance coverage it would otherwise be lost.
While this may be a good option if you wish to keep the same insurance plan you were on as a family, there are some downsides to using COBRA. First, it is usually significantly more expensive than the amount the employee would have paid, since the employer typically pays for some of the cost. Next, COBRA is meant to be a temporary solution for health insurance coverage, so it only lasts up to 36 months.
Obtain Coverage Through Your Employer
Obtaining your own health insurance plan through your employer is usually a better option than COBRA, so if your employer offers it, you should consider signing up. It is usually much cheaper than COBRA and is a more permanent option.
Purchase Your Own Plan
If your employer does not offer a health insurance plan or you do not work, there are still options available for purchasing a health insurance policy. The Affordable Care Act allows you to purchase an individual policy through a health insurance marketplace that may be a good option for you.
All of the above options typically end up costing more than the family plan that you may have been covered under while married. If the insurance premiums are an issue, you may wish to have your divorce settlement include a provision requiring your ex-spouse to pay for your health insurance premiums for a certain period of time. This may be especially important in the case of a spouse who did not work outside the home and cannot obtain a health insurance policy through an employer.Health Insurance Coverage for Dependent Children
While a divorce in NJ will trigger the end of health insurance for an ex-spouse on an employer-sponsored plan, it does not affect the coverage of dependent children. As part of the divorce process the spouses will need to determine how the premiums for the children’s health insurance policies will be paid, but the coverage through the employee’s policy may continue despite the divorce.
Losing health insurance coverage is often a major financial blow when a couple divorces. If you have questions about maintaining your health insurance coverage after divorce, call Peter Van Aulen a NJ divorce attorney at 201-845-7400 for a free comprehensive in office consultation.