How Long Can I Stay on My Partner's Insurance After a Divorce?
3 min read •
30 sec brief
Divorce is a complicated process - and it doesn't help that your health insurance gets tied up into the process as well. We detail some information that you will need to know regarding your healthcare if you are getting divorced from your partner.
Dividing your assets, such as 401(k)s and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) is a central piece of negotiating a divorce settlement. If you receive health insurance through your spouse’s employer, you want to carefully consider whether it makes sense to stay on your partner’s health insurance after you divorce.
Tips for navigating health insurance when divorcing
You can pay for health insurance through an ex’s health insurance.
If your health insurance was through your partner’s workplace plan, you may be able to stay on the plan for up to 36 months. The federal COBRA legislation requires any firm or organization with at least 20 employees to offer health insurance to the divorced partner. If your soon-to-be-ex works for a smaller employer, you may be eligible for extended COBRA coverage through a state-run plan.
But there’s a big expensive catch to COBRA health insurance coverage: Once you are divorced, the employer no longer will subsidize the premium cost for the non-employee.
You will be required to pay the full cost. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average monthly premium for single coverage through a group plan was nearly $7,200 in 2019. And the employer is also allowed to tack on an additional 2% annual fee to cover administrative charges.
Check out your employer’s health insurance.
If you were on your partner’s plan because it was more robust or cost-effective than the plan offered by your employer, time to circle back to your workplace plan. It may now be more cost-effective than staying on your ex’s plan through COBRA.
Getting divorced is considered a qualifying life event, so you’ll be able to enroll for health insurance outside of open enrollment.
Compare COBRA coverage to an ACA-marketplace plan.
Before you finalize your divorce, spend some time pricing out purchasing your own health insurance through the ACA marketplace. Depending on your income you may be eligible for subsidies. You can start your search at the healthcare.gov website.
Include the cost of paying for health insurance in your divorce negotiations.
It’s likely that whatever health insurance solution you land on, the premium is going to be a sizable line-item cost in your monthly budget. You should factor that into negotiations for assets. And keep in mind that if there is a family HSA account that has a sizable balance, that is a valuable asset to also bring into your discussions.
Consider a legal separation as a temporary step.
If you are legally separated, but not divorced, you may be able to stay on a spouse’s plan, but it varies by employer and insurer.
Sort out who pays for insurance coverage of the kids.
This is obviously a key part of your divorce negotiation. If you opt for joint custody and you both assume responsibility for health insurance, the spouse whose birthday falls earlier in the calendar year will have the “primary” insurance for the children. If there isn’t joint custody, the custodial parent typically assumes responsibility for health insurance for children. If the custodial parent remarries, and doesn’t have health insurance, the responsibility can fall to the custodial parent’s new spouse. If that isn’t an option the non-custodial parent will be required to step in and provide health insurance coverage.
Given the complexity of divorce, including health insurance coverage. consulting with a lawyer experienced in divorce law is a smart move to ensure that everyone in the family is covered.
About the author
Lauren Hargrave is a writer from San Francisco who focuses on technology, finance and wellness. She follows comedians like most people follow bands and believes an outdoor sweat session can cure almost any bad mood. She’s also been writing her first novel for so long, her mom doesn’t ask about it anymore.
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