Divorce and Health Insurance Options

There are many things to consider during divorce and health insurance should be one of them. Having adequate health coverage is important, especially if you have children. The following article describes some of the health care options available when you are separated or going through a divorce.

Affording Health Insurance during Divorce

Divorce does change everything! But what it will not change is the fact that you and your spouse will continue to have concerns about not only your overall health and wellness but also that of your children.

Piggy bank with stethoscope depicting affordable health coverage

And with those concerns comes the need of having adequate health benefits to cover you and your children. No one likes to think or talk about "needing," (even the needs for health insurance) until there is a potential individual or family crisis. Overlooking the health needs during a legal separation or divorce can lead to costly mistakes in more ways than one and that includes financial ruin.

So if you are in the legal separation or divorce stages, now is the time to look over all of those other financial documents (health policies, life insurance, etc.). Don't fret though if you see something questionable in those papers as there are laws designed to protect your rights and your children rights. Just talk this over with your legal counsel.

When a marriage ends, there are normally four good options to getting that needed health coverage for yourself and your children, regardless of who will have custody. It will be just a matter of which option you choose to pursue:

Continue the coverage offered through your ex-spouse's policy

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal mandated law that was designed to protect employees and their families from losing coverage as a direct result of divorce, death, job loss and other life circumstances. It really is a stop-gap option though, because most people simply can't afford the coverage!

For example, if your spouse maintains coverage through the company and the company employs at least twenty (20) people, than you may continue this coverage for up to three (3 years) providing you are willing to pay for the premium or monthly fee in its entirety for coverage up to 102% of the plan cost. Once you re-marry or obtain coverage of your own, under another policy, the COBRA law will then terminate.

Get coverage through your current employer

If you are working and your employer offers an affordable health plan that works for you and your new budget or financial situation, then by all means see what it has to offer as far as vision, dental, prescription and more. You can then enroll if it fits your budget and will meet all your and your children's needs. 

While years ago it may have been cheaper to get coverage under your ex-spouse's policy than under your employer's policy, this is generally no longer the case due to all the restrictions, etc. 

Ask for coverage as part of the settlement

This may or may not work, but it is definitely worth discussing with your legal counsel, especially if children are involved. The place you may want to discuss your children’s health coverage is under the child support section for court ordered medical insurance. You can also ask your legal counselor if your divorce settlement can include a provision that you be compensated for a portion of the monthly fee for coverage if you were to find your own health benefits.

Purchase an individual health benefits plan 

In some or most cases, this may be your only or best option, especially if you are trying to cut all ties to what no longer works. Once again, you will have to pay the monthly fee on your own but you will be surprised as to what is available for the uninsured, on-going medical condition person, and the under-insured. If you're looking to purchase your own health insurance, you can get instant quotes and apply for health insurance through the healthcare.gov website. Depending on your income, you may even qualify for help with paying the premium.

There are various plans to choose, from even though many want you to still believe there are only two options. Plans that place constraints on access to hospital and physicians for a lower price and medical plans that offer ready access to hospitals and physicians for a higher price.

However, with the healthcare crisis comes another healthcare option and it is called "consumer driven healthcare." One benefit of the consumer driven healthcare alternative is that it puts the relationship back where it needs to be - into the hands of the patient and the physician.

There are tons of other benefits though, if you and your children are fairly healthy people and are not in and out of the hospital every week or month for example. The additional benefits can range anywhere from no deductibles, co-pays and waiting periods to being able to have on-going conditions covered and being able to have all services under one umbrella per say like your ancillary, dental, prescription, vision etc.

Ready or not divorce brings changes - maybe some welcomed, maybe some not. But do not let the financial issues became a reason to stay in a relationship that no longer works because it may be costly to not only the mind, body and spirit of yourself but to everyone else, including your children. 

About the author: Angela Baker is a wife and mother who know what it means to have an increase in life responsibility after starting a family. That is why she is dedicated to making sure moms get the information they need for family wellness.

If you're going through a divorce, and health insurance is something you just can't afford, then you might consider applying for Medicaid. This federal program provides for health coverage for children and pregnant women from low-income families. You can find out more about the program by visiting the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

For information covering the legal and financial issues that you need to consider during divorce, continue with...