Medical insurance coverage is a major concern for any person approaching divorce or in the middle of their divorce proceedings. While almost all Georgia courts forbid a spouse who provides the medical insurance coverage for a family from making any changes to the policy during the divorce proceedings, that same rule does not apply after the divorce is finalized. Because health insurance is such a major financial cost, it can feel quite overwhelming when you are faced with taking on that financial burden. For some people, it can even be a reason to put off getting divorced, especially for someone that has a lot of medical needs.
If there is any minor child or children born in the marriage, the court will require either spouse to provide or continue to provide medical insurance coverage for the child(ren) after the divorce is finalized. The same cannot be said for the ex-spouse.
Once a divorce is finalized, your spouse cannot legally keep you on their medical insurance coverage because you are no longer a part of their “family unit.” However, if you obtained medical insurance coverage through your ex-spouse’s employer, then you can elect to have temporary coverage under your ex-spouse’s employer-sponsored group health plan under Federal COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) laws or Georgia Health Insurance Continuation laws. However, this can be even more expensive than finding your own plan.
Federal COBRA laws apply if an employer has 20 or more full-time employees and the coverage for any qualified beneficiary last up to 36 months in the event of a divorce. Georgia Health Insurance Continuation laws will apply if an employer has less than 20 full-time employees and the coverage usually last only 3 months. In either case, you will be solely responsible for the medical insurance premiums and must notify the plan administrator within 60 days of your divorce being finalized of your intention to continue coverage.
For anyone with insurance coverage whose divorce is being finalized, you should inform your plan administrator of your change in marital status as soon as possible and with any questions you may have about your medical insurance coverage.
For anyone who is contemplating divorce and is without medical insurance coverage, it is always a good idea to obtain your own separate policy prior to the divorce being finalized. Because it can be so costly, start doing your research early so you know what to include in your monthly budget. You can get on www.healthcare.gov or research private health insurance companies to see what you can afford and what is included in a healthcare plan. Your health is important, so take the time you need.
Written By: Elaine Mundwiller, Esq.