Health insurance is often overlooked by couples when going through a divorce. Often one spouse carried the insurance for the family on a group policy through her employer. While that group coverage can continue for the employee spouse and the children, that coverage ends for the non-employee spouse when the divorce has become final.
This leaves the other spouse find individual health insurance coverage. Health insurance is complicated and expensive. There are many different levels of coverage, definite times of enrollment and varying levels of deductibles. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Give yourself TIME to figure it out. Do not wait until after you are divorced to begin researching. The health care marketplace can be confusing and a through comparison is necessary so you understand what you are buying.
- Include the cost of health insurance in your expenses for spousal support purposes. Do not guess at the cost. It may be far higher than you expected and make a difference in the award.
- Pay attention to deadlines. This is very important. You can only enroll in health care plans at certain times. Currently we are in Open Enrollment through the end of the year. However, you have 60 days from the date of the divorce decree to obtain insurance outside of the open enrollment period.
- Understand what you are buying and all the options. While COBRA is always available for a limited time post-divorce, it is usually expensive and may not be the coverage you need. Make sure you understand terms like “stacked deductible” and “co-insurance” before buying a plan. See if your doctor is covered and what exactly is excluded from coverage. Also, make sure that if you choose a high-deductible plan you set aside the funds to pay for a medical emergency
Choosing health insurance coverage should be part of a well thought out plan for your life after divorce. Do your research and don’t leave this expense off the table when planning for financial stability after a divorce.