I’m Getting a Divorce. What Happens to my Health Insurance?

September 18, 2014

This post was written by Mandy Walker and originally appeared at Since My Divorce

If you have health coverage through your STBX’s employer then high on your list of priorities is understanding what happens to your health insurance after divorce and how you can get coverage.

It’s best to start researching this as soon as you know you’re getting divorced because while you definitely won’t be eligible for coverage at the next enrollment period under your STBX’s employer’s plan once you’re legally divorced, the timing of when you would lose coverage is fuzzy.

In an ideal world, your STBX would agree to keep you on their plan through the end of the benefit year giving you ample opportunity to research alternatives and hopefully arrange an orderly transition. So for example, if the benefit year runs January through December and your divorce is final in March, you may be able to stay covered on the plan through December. You can also agree to reimburse your STBX your portion of the premium expense.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the STBX who removes you from coverage even before your divorce is final, maybe even before a divorce petition has been filed, leaving you to find out you have no coverage in the doctor’s office after an expensive and necessary procedure.

Start by calling your present insurer and verifying what happens at divorce and what options they offer.

Then you’ll want to research your options through Obamacare. If you know you’ll lose your coverage at the end of December then you can enroll for coverage through the Open Enrollment Period that starts this year on November 15. To have your plan start on the first of the month, the enrollment period has to be completed by the 15th of the prior month.

If you’re going to lose coverage outside the Open Enrollment Period don’t panic. While divorce itself is not considered a “qualifying life event,” loss of coverage is and that makes you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. You can visit the marketplace up to 60 days in advance to report an anticipated loss of coverage and find out your options for coverage. If you wait until after you’ve lost your coverage, you have 60 days to complete the enrollment process.

You can find your state’s marketplace and other helpful information through Get Covered America. There’s also a locator for you to find health insurance experts to help you get coverage. Like choosing any professional, I always recommend that you interview three people before deciding who you want to work with. A health insurance expert will also help you explore your coverage options outside the marketplace.

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