Can Divorced Couples Share Health Insurance?
Among the most pressing issues in New York divorce matters is health insurance. It is important for divorcing spouses to discuss this matter as early on as possible to best avoid consequences to themselves and their children.
As such, the question begs, “Does coverage continue during and after a divorce?” People often wonder if they can still receive their spouse’s health insurance benefits after dissolving their marriage, and in many cases, they can get continue receiving coverage for a certain amount of time depending on their spouse’s insurance plan.
It is best to speak with a lawyer to understand New York’s health insurance laws during divorce and your available options.
How Long Can an Ex-Spouse Stay on Health Insurance?
While federal law generally requires insurance coverage to end after a divorce, most insurance plans have exceptions.
Employers with 20 or more employees are generally required by law to offer continuation coverage to qualified beneficiaries, such as ex-spouses, who would otherwise lose coverage under the plan due to their divorce. Coverage can last up to 3 years after a divorce is finalized.
Keep in mind that employers may charge qualified beneficiaries a maximum of 2% more than what employees pay, meaning an employee’s ex-spouse may be required to pay up to 102% of the applicable premium for that period.
How Does COBRA Insurance Work?
If you are looking to stay on your spouse’s health insurance plan after divorce, know your rights under COBRA, which is short for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Under COBRA, qualified beneficiaries, including employee’s ex-spouses, have the right to continue receiving the same health insurance coverage they would otherwise receive had they not gotten divorced.
COBRA essentially provides coverage to divorced spouses of employees in case they can’t get health insurance right after their divorce. For instance, if you need emergency surgery but have not yet elected for alternate health insurance within 60 days of the divorce, COBRA can help.
When should you apply for COBRA continuation coverage? As a qualified beneficiary, you have up to 60 days after your divorce is finalized to notify your ex’s health plan administrator that you want to continue coverage. As stated above, however, you are only entitled to up to 36 months of continued health coverage if you pay 102% of the employer’s monthly insurance costs under COBRA.
This can be expensive, which is why many spouses don’t elect continued coverage. Thus, you may want to have a “plan B” health coverage plan within the 60-day window to best avoid gaps and unintended health consequences, as a result.
Health Insurance During Divorce
It’s important to know that you CANNOT drop your spouse from your employer’s health insurance coverage during the divorce process. In fact, family court judges typically impose ATROs, or “Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders” to prevent spouses from changing or canceling beneficiaries from their insurance coverage.
However, if you are adamant about removing your spouse from your health insurance during divorce, you may petition the court for permission and your request may be granted. If it’s not, you are better off leaving your coverage untouched until after the divorce is finalized. Your lawyer will advise you on this matter in more depth.
If you have questions regarding your health insurance during and after divorce, contact our Putnam County divorce attorneys at (845) 605-4330!