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Health Insurance Considerations after a Divorce

It is important to have health insurance. That's it- that's the entire blog for today, thanks for stopping by. In all seriousness, having health insurance frequently means having access to health care and avoiding huge bills once you receive health care services. When you don't have health insurance that means you may not get the care that you need in the event of an acute issue or a chronic condition that continues to worsen. On top of that, health insurance can prevent huge medical bills which often spiral out of control and can lead to financial ruin such as filing for bankruptcy to avoid the worst of these circumstances. 

When we think about health insurance after a divorce many of us fail to consider that the divorce itself is a tough event and can cause or contribute to many health issues that we may be suffering. Stress from a divorce can have adverse impacts on your health. I am not a doctor and do not want to come off as someone attempting to give medical advice. However, it is true that many people who go through a divorce experience stress on a near-constant basis. You can speak to your doctor about the long-term effects of stress on the human body. If you feel like you are struggling from a physical or mental standpoint after a divorce, then you are not alone. Having health insurance can mean the difference between you receiving the care that you need and going without. 

If you have your health insurance through your spouse’s employer, then you need to be aware that your benefits will end on the date your divorce is finalized. When temporary orders are issued in your case there will be a prohibition against your spouse ending your benefits before the divorce is over, however. You will have some time to plan your next move, but you absolutely should start to think about where you are going to get your health insurance from next once the divorce is all said and done. This blog post is a great beginning step towards that planning but absolutely should not be all the work that you put into the planning process for obtaining health insurance after a divorce. 

There are three sources of health insurance that many people investigate after a divorce. The first is COBRA. This is an option for those of you who want to continue with the same health insurance that you had through your spouse’s plan through their employer. While COBRA allows for you to have great consistency in your coverage, it costs much more on average than most people that I have worked with are willing to pay. However, the costs of the plan should be looked into on a case-by-case basis. It may be that any interruption or potential interruption in care would be worse than an increase in costs associated with temporarily maintaining health insurance under COBA immediately after a divorce. 

Don’t overlook the complex nature of a divorce case

Divorce doesn’t have to be complex but even “simple” divorce cases tend to be difficult in terms of the need for you and your spouse to focus intensely on a specific subject for a certain period. For example, you may be involved in a divorce where you and your spouse need to look at options for taking for of your developmentally delayed child in terms of their schooling. In a situation like that, you have options available to you, but you and your spouse may not agree on which to choose. At that point, the two of you and your attorneys may need to take some time to negotiate through the problem. Waiting until the last minute before mediation to start going through these difficult decisions is a recipe for disaster. It is easier for you all to spend time at varying points in your case on these subjects so that you have enough time to spend diligently on each. 

Health insurance is a huge topic in our lives whether we think about it every day or not. Ask anyone who doesn't have health insurance whether they would like to be covered by one plan or another. I am confident that their response would be "yes." Were you to go through life without health insurance coverage you would potentially be in a spot where you could not enjoy yourself or your activities as much given the risk of injury that you incur simply by enjoying your life. This is a major hindrance especially when you consider that most of the time you don't need health insurance in your daily life. However, there will surely come a time when you need coverage for an injury or illness. If you lack coverage at that time you will stand to suffer the consequences of your decision. 

What you need to think about during the divorce is that you have options to take advantage of when it comes to health insurance coverage. Options are a good thing. When I have options in my life, I make better decisions. When I don’t have options in my life, I make poor decisions and feel trapped. Having to choose between two poor options limits your upside in life. On the other hand, by going through multiple options you can take advantage of the best and improve your life as a result. This is the message of health insurance- choose the best option and take advantage of it. Move your life forward and you will be better off for having done so. Health insurance is not something that you have to negotiate with your spouse for. Rather, once you settle upon the best options for health insurance you can simply choose the option that suits you and your life the best. There is no need to run it past your spouse or negotiate on this. Health insurance after the divorce is a subject that you get to select on your own and without having to consult with your spouse. 

What if you have health insurance- do you need to tell them about your divorce?

If you have health insurance, then you need to tell the health insurance provider about your divorce. Typically, this needs to be done within 60 days of your divorce being finalized. There are multiple ways to get this done but the foremost among them is to contact the health insurance company directly either by phone or online. If you have a plan through your employer, then you can even contact someone with human resources who should be able to convey this information to your health insurance company. 

Depending on the makeup of your family the divorce may impact you all in different ways. First, if you and your spouse share health insurance coverage but do not have children then you have the decision to make as far as coverage after the divorce comes to an end. As we have already covered earlier in today's blog post health insurance must be maintained in its current state while the divorce is ongoing. For example, if you have your spouse on your health plan you cannot remove her just because she has filed for divorce. The same is true if you are the one covering your spouse on your plan. Do not remove him and he cannot remove you while the divorce is ongoing. Doing so can put you in hot water not only with your spouse but also with the judge in your case. 

You can stay on your ex-spouse’s health insurance plan for up to three years after you have divorced under COBRA. Keep in mind that the premiums for COBRA are expensive and that you should consider the costs of this option before signing up for it. Your spouse’s employer will not help you cut down the costs of this option so if you want to remain on the plan you are going to have to pay for it most likely. Do your research and then consider your options when it comes to COBRA. What sounds convenient may be a way for you to pay more money and get lesser care depending upon the plan and your health needs. 

What if your income declines a great deal because of the divorce? Maybe you now must stay home to care for children or work different hours because of the divorce. If your income declines a great deal, then you can check in and see if you qualify for any subsidized health insurance plans offered through the federal government. Medicaid and Medicare are the two government programs that most people are aware of. Depending on your age and income you may qualify for either option. Young mothers, for example, are typically eligible for Medicaid along with their children. 

Health insurance for parents 

The last thing you want to see happen because of your divorce is for your children to lose their health insurance coverage for any period. Kids tend to run into acute medical issues like broken bones and things of this nature, but your child may suffer from a chronic illness of some sort, as well. Just like with you your child's health insurance coverage will need to stay in place until the end of the divorce. Your children must be covered by some health plan no matter what the date of the divorce is or what the circumstances of your case are. An interruption in care for your child can be a real mess to have to sort through. 

Health insurance premiums rarely stay the same for a long period. Going through a divorce is very likely to alter or change the premium for your health insurance. This is true both for whichever spouse has to buy a new policy and for the spouse who keeps their old insurance. If you pay for the health insurance and no longer have a spouse to pay for then your premium paid each month may decrease a substantial amount. Again, you will need to ask questions about this your health insurance provider ahead of time to get a better feeling for what will happen to the premiums that you pay each month. 

You can enroll in a new health insurance plan because of your divorce. The divorce counts as a qualifying life event which allows for special enrollment. You can enroll in a new plan outside of the normal times of the year based on this change to your marital status. If you are going to be removed from your spouse's health insurance plan, then you do not need to panic. However, there are steps that you can and should take to prepare for this gap in coverage that you are going to encounter. Fortunately, it will not be a shock to you that this gap is upcoming. As a result, you can put a plan into action ahead of time so that you experience as minimal amount of disruption to your life as possible. 

First, it will take some time, but you can perform some basic research into the costs of your health insurance options. A divorce will not be over in the blink of an eye. Rather, most divorces take between three and five months to wrap up. If you take advantage of this time to do some research, consider your options, and move forward with the best plan for you then you will have served yourself well. However, if you wait until the last minute to do the research and then act surprised that you have no health insurance suddenly then this is an avoidable situation. You can get on COBRA, contact your spouse's employer, and then start to pay the premiums as soon as you are able. Look at the new policy to make sure that it is listed under your name and not that of your spouse. 

Health insurance options available to you after a divorce

We have covered the types of health insurance options that are available to you after the divorce but for the sake of being very clear, I wanted to describe the plans in somewhat greater detail before we conclude today's blog post. I am not a health or health insurance expert, but I can give you information based on my experiences in practicing law and helping families get through divorces here in Texas. 

If your employer offers a group policy, then you should look into the availability and costs for you. Because many employers shoulder part of the burden of paying for the plan premiums this may end up being the best option for you in terms of cost. Since your children are likely still on the health insurance plan of your ex-spouse your rate for health insurance will probably be more reasonable than you otherwise would have expected were your children included in the premium. You can request a quote for the premium in writing and can review your options by comparing the different plans that are available to you after your divorce has come to an end.

COBRA allows you to remain on your ex-spouse's health insurance plan for a limited period after the divorce. This may be the best plan for you considering that you may have a chronic medical condition that requires you to receive consistent care period the last thing that you will want to see happen to you after a divorce is for there to be an interruption in your health insurance which harmed your short- and long-term well-being. Cobra may be the most expensive option listed here but it may be the best for you when considering all of your circumstances.

Medicaid is typically a program made available to children and their single mothers who cannot afford to pay for private health insurance. Having Medicaid allows you to see a primary care doctor, have prescriptions filled, and receive other types of secondary care. Texas has its laws on eligibility for Medicaid that you should investigate while your divorce is ongoing. It may surprise you that you are eligible for Medicaid when you previously believed that you were not.

Finally, Medicare is typically an option for senior citizens as well as persons who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance. While eligibility for Medicare may be a hindrance for you it is still an option worth looking into. Those of you who are going through a golden year’s divorce may be eligible for Medicare and you did not even know it. Make sure that you write down questions that you may have about eligibility under any of these plans so that you can ask representatives on the phone about your options moving forward once your divorce has come to an end.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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