How divorce affects your health insurance

Statistics say that nearly 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. If you are in this group of Americans, issues surrounding custody of children and the division of financial assets are at the head of the list of things to take care of. Following close behind should be health insurance.

When health insurance stops

If you are divorcing and on your spouse's health insurance plan, it is almost a certainty that your insurance coverage will end, although the kids may still be covered under your spouse's plan. Your spouse has up to 30 days to notify the insurance company that the divorce is final. If you endured fire and brimstone conferences, count on your ex to notify them the next day, but if your divorce is amicable he or she may wait the full allotted time before making the notification. This gives you the time to get a replacement policy.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to continue your spouse's insurance plan on your own if you pay the scheduled premiums for up to 18 months. Cobra is likely the costliest option for a newly divorced spouse to take for continuing health care insurance coverage.

How to get a new health insurance policy

If you are working, check with your HR department to see if there is health insurance available to you. If there is and it is free, sign up right away. Even if the coverage is less than that your spouse's plan covered, it is better than nothing and gives you time to find a replacement policy.

Planning for health insurance is something you should do before your divorce is final to be sure that you have uninterrupted coverage. Also, you can use the time between the filing for divorce and the granting of your divorce to make sure your children remain covered without interruption.

An attorney can help you understand your rights and options as well as help you better plan for your future once your divorce is finalized.

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