Health insurance often isn’t at the top of divorcing people’s list of concerns. However, if you’re insured through your spouse’s employee-sponsored or another plan, it should be. Once that divorce decree is signed, you could find yourself uninsured.
If your soon-to-be-ex is a current or retired federal employee, you may be getting Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) through them. Unlike most other employer-provided insurance benefits, you may be able to continue to receive FEHB coverage in your own name after your divorce is final even if you aren’t a federal employee or retiree.
Who qualifies for continued coverage?
Under the Spouse Equity Act, former spouses can continue to be insured in a new plan under FEHB if:
- They were covered under their spouse’s plan (Self Plus One or Self and Family) at any point in the 18 months before the divorce.
- They have been qualified to receive part of their spouse’s retirement or survivor annuity.
- They do not remarry (if they’re under 55).
As noted, if you continue to qualify for health insurance under FEHB, it’s no longer part of your spouse’s plan but under a new one that you can get for yourself only or for yourself and your children. If you choose to continue in an FEHB plan, you need to take action within 60 days after your divorce becomes final. Note that children can remain on their federal employee parent’s plan.
If you don’t meet the Spouse Equity Act requirements, you can still choose to get a temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) for as long as three years after your divorce is final. This will give you time to get other insurance coverage. Again, you need to submit an application for this coverage.
Health insurance is just one aspect of divorce that’s unique for federal employees and their spouses. It’s wise to have experienced legal guidance to help you navigate other rights and benefits along with all the other intricacies of divorce.