Can I Keep My Health Insurance?

Health insurance is one of those parts of divorce that is relatively clear-cut. Because the health insurance company has a policy about whom it can insure, your divorce will probably mean that your health insurance policy will change. If you carry your own health insurance through your employer, you will be able to continue that coverage after your divorce. If you’ve carried your husband on that same policy, however, you won’t be able to provide his health insurance after the entry of the final divorce decree.

The same thing goes for you, if you are insured through your husband’s employer. Because of the way health insurance companies work, he can’t keep you on his insurance after the final decree of divorce is entered. At that point, you are no longer his wife. In fact, legally, you become a stranger to your ex-husband. The health insurance company has no obligation to extend coverage to strangers.

The children, on the other hand, can stay on whichever parent’s policy they were on before the divorce. The child support formula takes the cost of health insurance into account, and whichever parent is responsible for paying the premium will receive credit for it in the child support calculation. It’s not really a dollar-for-dollar thing (for example, if you pay $50 a month in health insurance, it doesn’t mean that he’ll have to pay exactly $50 more in child support), but the formula does take this expense into account.

Many women end up without health insurance after a divorce because it’s just to expensive to get a policy independent of an employer. If it’s a long-term marriage and you qualify to receive spousal support, your attorney MAY be able to negotiate a higher award of spousal support for you because of the cost of health insurance that you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Sometimes this argument is successful and sometimes it isn’t, but it’s often worth a try. If your marriage is a shorter-term marriage, it is unlikely that your husband will have to pay much more or for a longer period than he would ordinarily be required to pay. Of course, you should keep in mind here that I am assuming that yours is a situation that would qualify for spousal support, which is also not always the case.

If your husband is in the military, you can’t qualify to receive military benefits after divorce unless you’re a 20-20-20 spouse, which means that you have been married twenty years, that he has twenty years of creditable service, and those twenty years overlapped. If you’re a 20-20-15 spouse, which means that just fifteen of those years overlapped, you can receive health insurance through TriCare for a year after your final divorce decree.

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