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How to handle health insurance after divorce

One of the most common questions asked of Georgia family law attorneys is whether spouses can remain on one another’s health insurance after their divorce becomes final. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is usually no. Most health insurance companies will only insure current spouses.

In fact, some couples decide to seek a legal separation instead of a divorce in an attempt to maintain insurance coverage. However, it is important to check your insurance policy’s fine print before going this route: some insurance companies consider a legal separation to be the same as divorce, so it could end up having little to no benefit in the end.

Most health insurance companies have very strict requirements for when and how a beneficiary must inform them of a divorce. If you do not comply with these requirements, you may find yourself facing charges or penalties for insurance fraud, even if that failure was unintentional.

However, spouses will not become automatically uninsured at the moment their divorce becomes final. At that time, the non-employee spouse will qualify for COBRA, which will provide insurance coverage for up to 36 months.

It is generally recommended that spouses get off of COBRA and on to their own health insurance policy as soon as possible. If you were to fall ill or become injured while on COBRA, you could have trouble obtaining new insurance based on that pre-existing condition (although that could change with the new federal health care law).

In most cases, children can and should remain on their parent’s insurance after divorce, although the couple will have to work out how to pay premiums, co-pays and other costs.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Questions: Can I Still Get Medical Insurance From My Ex After Divorce?” Jeffrey A. Landers, May 7, 2012