For New Jersey couples seeking a divorce, there are numerous factors to consider as they move forward. Often times, the issue of health insurance coverage becomes very prevalent – especially if there are children in the picture who are covered under the health insurance policy of one parent.
The most important thing for the court is to ensure that the child does not endure any interruptions to their medical care. If the divorcing couple does not come to an agreement, a ruling by a judge ensures the child’s health care remains active and consistent.
Health Insurance Options
There are three types of medical insurance coverage available: employer-provided medical insurance; individual medical insurance; and Medicare. If one or both former spouses have their own coverage they may keep it. However, if one of the spouses is listed as a dependent on their former spouse’s employer-sponsored health care plan, once the divorce is final, he or she must be removed from their former spouse’s policy. When this situation occurs, there are a few options. These include:
Signing up for coverage through an employer. If one spouse’s employer offers health insurance coverage, he or she may sign up outside of the open enrollment period, so long as he or she has lost health coverage from another source.
Buying from the Marketplace. The divorcee may purchase a health insurance policy straight form a health insurance company, or through New Jersey’s health insurance marketplace.
COBRA Coverage. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows individuals who lose their group health insurance due to certain life changes, such as divorce, to buy coverage for up to 36 months. A former spouse may pay for the coverage he or she had through their former spouse’s plan or the health coverage may be included as part of the divorce settlement.
COBRA applies to health plans that are sponsored by state and local governments, or private companies with at least 20 employees (though many states have their own laws that apply for those with fewer employees). To elect COBRA, you need to inform your health insurance plan provider of the divorce. You will then receive instructions concerning how to continue coverage.
Enter into a separation agreement and delay the divorce. Though not ideal, if COBRA is too expensive and both parties do not have adequate health insurance, it may be in a couple’s best interest to delay filing. That way, both parties can stay on the same plan, even though they are separated.