Keeping Your Health Insurance After Divorce
Going through a divorce can require major changes to your financial arrangements, including insurance. If you have been covered by your spouse’s health insurance policy, that coverage will end as soon as the divorce is final. You need to take steps to secure replacement insurance and to make certain there is no gap in coverage.
In Arizona, a beneficiary of a spouse’s health insurance policy has the right to continued coverage during divorce proceedings. The primary insured cannot cancel or modify the other spouse’s coverage while the divorce case is ongoing. But it’s during that time that you need to be preparing for what happens next.
These are the options that you can pursue:
- COBRA coverage — For up to 60 days after the divorce becomes final, you can apply for continuation of coverage under the federal COBRA law. This allows a beneficiary to stay on their former spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan for up to 36 months, as long as the employer has a minimum of 20 employees. The downside of COBRA is that you have to assume the full cost for this continued coverage, which can be expensive. On the other hand, this cost can be considered when deciding on the amount of spousal maintenance (alimony) to which you may be entitled.
- Coverage through your employer —If you work for a business or other entity that offers a health insurance plan, you may enroll yourself and include your minor children, unless they continue to be covered by your spouse’s plan. Since divorce is a life-changing event, you don’t need to wait for the annual enrollment period to sign up.
- Privately obtained insurance — You can secure your own health insurance through an organization to which you belong that offers group insurance. You can also find affordable coverage through state or federal health insurance marketplaces. As with employer-sponsored insurance, you can enroll immediately in a private or group plan after your divorce is final.
An Arizona family law attorney can help you understand how these health insurance issues might factor into the overall settlement of your divorce.
Some couples opt for a legal separation instead of a divorce if they would like to keep their health insurance coverage and other economic benefits but would like to end the relationship in all other aspects. A legal separation is similar to a divorce insofar as both require making provisions for spousal maintenance and child custody and support. However, you remain married to your spouse, so you are eligible for all benefits incident to that legal status.
If you are considering a separation or divorce in Arizona, the attorneys at Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale are ready to assist in all aspects of your case. For a free initial consultation, call us at 602-789-3497 or contact us online.