If you've recently filed for divorce, you're probably already negotiating the division of property and debts with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Although ensuring an equitable split of retirement accounts and marital debt is important for your financial future, equally important is protecting yourself against denial of health care benefits -- a possibility if your health insurance lapses. What happens to your health insurance benefits once your divorce is finalized? Are you required to keep your ex-spouse on your policy? Can you be denied care if your ex-spouse removed you from a policy without your consent or knowledge? Read on to learn more about your options for dealing with health care during (and after) your divorce.
What happens to a joint or family health insurance policy during a divorce?
If you and your ex-spouse have children insured under a family health policy, the person who holds the policy through their employer may elect to keep this coverage -- however, the other person must be removed from this policy shortly after the divorce is finalized. Even if neither you nor your ex-spouse take action to have the other removed from the family policy, any coverage for this person would lapse after this waiting period has passed.
If you have family health insurance through your state's exchange (pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)), both you and your ex-spouse may want to investigate individual and family policies. Often, it makes more financial sense for the parent carrying family coverage to purchase a policy that provides discounts for younger patients, or for one parent to claim each child so that they can purchase a joint (rather than family) policy.
Because the process of shopping for health insurance can be daunting, it's important to consult with an experienced family law attorney like those at LaCroix & Hand PC who can help guide you through the steps and deadlines associated with obtaining health insurance after a divorce.
How can you protect yourself?
If you're currently covered under your soon-to-be ex-spouse's health insurance policy, it usually makes good financial sense to obtain an insurance policy for yourself as soon as you file for divorce -- if not before. This will ensure that you're protected long before you're required to be removed from the policy. Angry or scorned spouses may exact revenge by secretly voiding your health insurance coverage as soon as you file for divorce, which can have devastating financial consequences if you're injured or made ill.
Purchasing your own policy early can also provide a benefit if your ex-spouse doesn't remove you from his or her policy before the divorce is finalized. In many cases, procedures that would be only partially covered under each policy can be fully covered when both kick in at the same time.