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Navigating health insurance coverage after divorce in Virginia

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce inspires a multitude of changes, and navigating health insurance is an important but often overlooked concern in this regard.

Under most health insurance plans, you generally cannot stay on your ex-spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan once a divorce is finalized. Exploring more details on health insurance in advance of a divorce or before a settlement is reached can offer clarity and help you to better assess your options moving forward.

Understanding the shift in coverage

While your divorce is pending, you and your spouse should typically maintain coverage under the existing health insurance plan. If necessary, you can file a motion with the court to require your spouse to maintain your coverage during the pendency of the divorce action. However, you’ll be removed from the plan once the divorce is finalized, as you’re no longer considered a spouse. Although the onus falls on the insured spouse (your ex) to notify their employer and the insurance company about the change in marital status, once they do, the clock will start ticking quickly and you will need to make some fast decisions with paperwork to fill out.

Alternative paths for health insurance

If you have access to health insurance through your own employer, this is likely the most affordable and convenient option. A divorce qualifies as a “qualifying life event,” which may allow you to enroll in your employer-sponsored health plan outside the usual open enrollment period. Check with your Human Resources department for specifics.

Additionally, depending on the size of your former spouse’s employer, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to temporarily continue benefits through your former spouse’s health insurance plan, typically for up to 36 months. However, it’s crucial to remember that under COBRA, you’ll be responsible for the payment of the full premium amount (previously, the employer might have subsidized a portion).  Notification to the plan administrator should be made as soon as possible following the divorce in order to secure benefits through COBRA.

Furthermore, the Health Insurance Marketplace offers a variety of individual health insurance plans. Premiums are often based on your income and the plan you choose. You may also qualify for subsidies to help lower the cost.

Divorce is a complex process, and navigating health insurance concerns can add to the stress. By familiarizing yourself with available options and planning ahead, you can help ensure continued health coverage throughout this transition. Remember, seeking legal assistance can help to protect your rights and secure a fair outcome regarding health insurance and all other divorce-related legal and financial matters.

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