How you will maintain health insurance coverage during and after your divorce is an important issue to be considered.  Your options may be complex and expensive, and the impact of having a lapse in coverage can range from unfortunate to disastrous.

Divorce is considered a Qualifying Life Event, which makes you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, allowing you to enroll in health insurance coverage outside of the yearly Open Enrollment Period, which generally takes place in November or December of each year.  Below are 5 options to consider for obtaining post-divorce health insurance coverage.

Remain on Ex-Spouse’s Health Insurance Plan for 6 Months:

If your spouse currently provides health insurance for you, you may be able to remain on his or her health insurance plan while your divorce is pending.

Once your divorce is final (i.e. the judge has signed the Decree of Dissolution of Marriage), it may be possible for you to remain on your ex-spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan for up to 6 months following the entry of the decree.  However, not all employer-sponsored health insurance plans in Nebraska offer this benefit.  It is important that you check with your spouse’s employer to confirm whether you will be allowed to remain on your ex-spouse’s health insurance for 6 months after the Decree is final.

Elect COBRA Coverage:

If you are not allowed to remain on your spouse’s plan for the 6 month post-divorce period, investigate the costs of continuing on your spouse’s employer-sponsored plan pursuant to federal law, COBRA.  COBRA allows a former spouse to continue to be covered through their ex-spouse’s employer-sponsored health insurance plan for up to 3 years.  However, be aware COBRA coverage can be very expensive and there are strict deadlines associated with electing COBRA health insurance coverage.  Make sure you research this option before your divorce is finalized so you know what actions you need to take if you intend to elect COBRA coverage.

Health Insurance Through Your Employer:

If your current employer offers an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, contact your human resources department to obtain the current health insurance benefit summary.  Obtaining insurance through your employer will likely be the least expensive option if your employer pays a portion of your monthly premium.

 

Nebraska Health Insurance Marketplace:

Individuals and families may utilize the federal health insurance marketplace to obtain health insurance in Nebraska.  You can apply for health insurance through the marketplace online at www.HealthCare.gov.  When applying, you will need to provide your income and household information.  It’s possible you may quality for tax credits or other savings options to make your health insurance plan more affordable.

Medicaid:

In Nebraska, the Medicaid program offers medical services for individuals with children who are not able to afford medical services and for others who meet certain eligibility requirements.

To apply for Medicaid, you can fill out an application online at www.ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov or call the service line at (855) 632-7633 and request a paper application.

The Affordable Care Act, a federal law, requires most people to carry health insurance.  If you choose not to enroll in a health insurance program after your divorce, you may face a tax penalty.  Don’t wait until after you are divorced to begin to consider your options.  Do your research, pay attention to deadlines, and be sure to factor the future cost for health insurance into your post-divorce budget.

Angela Lennon