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Can You Keep Your Prior Medical Insurance After a Divorce?

Feb 6, 2022 | Divorce, Spousal Maintenance

Many things change during a divorce, such as assets, property ownership, and custody of children. But many people may also face medical insurance changes during a Texas divorce. For some ex-spouses, medical insurance coverage may be part of spousal support agreements, so it’s important to understand the details of your divorce settlement. If you aren’t sure about your health insurance coverage after divorce, reach out to an experienced divorce attorney in Houston, TX.

Can You Keep Your Prior Medical Insurance After a Divorce?

In short, yes. In a Texas divorce, there is a law that allows ex-spouses to continue receiving medical insurance coverage through their ex-spouses’ employer plan for at least 36 months after the divorce. This law is specific to COBRA medical insurance benefits. As for children, dependent children who are on the COBRA health plan can also be included in health insurance enrollments for at least 36 months or longer if the ex-spouse is awarded at least partial custody.

According to the law of the state, it’s illegal to have anyone on an insurance policy who is not a legal spouse or a dependent child. This is why most spouses are automatically removed from coverage after a divorce. However, with the right paperwork, you may be able to keep your previous medical insurance for up to three years.

How Does This Work?

COBRA sets the rules and regulations for staying on an ex-spouse’s health insurance policy after a divorce. After a divorce, it’s common for a spouse to be removed from an insurance plan right after the divorce is finalized. However, when this happens, COBRA must give notice within 14 days after the removal so that you have the opportunity to fill out an application to continue to receive coverage.

This application will be filed with your ex-spouse’s employer directly and can include dependent children. This application must be filed within 60 days of your divorce. If this deadline is missed, then you will not be able to receive any health insurance benefits unless it is through your private health insurance or government plans like Medicaid from the state.

Can You Be Removed From a Health Insurance Plan Before or During Divorce?

It’s possible that your spouse applied to remove you from their employer’s health insurance plan before filing for divorce, so in this circumstance, you may not be able to receive extended coverage after the divorce unless you quickly file the correct applications to maintain your coverage through COBRA. The same 60-day rule applies in this situation. If you’ve been notified that you’ve been removed from healthcare coverage before divorce paperwork is officially filed, then you should still be able to file the appropriate paperwork to keep your coverage until after the divorce is finalized.

That said, your spouse is not legally able to remove you from insurance coverage while a divorce is in process. Regardless of how long your divorce takes, you will still be able to have your current healthcare coverage through your spouse’s employee benefits until the divorce is finalized. When the divorce is finalized, then you will be legally removed unless you file the application with your ex-spouse’s employer.

How Does Health Insurance Relate to Spousal Support?

For those who do not have COBRA coverage through an employer, such as those who have private health insurance, there are different rules that may affect an ex-spouse’s ability to maintain coverage. For example, some support agreements may mandate that one spouse will need to pay for medical insurance premiums until the end of the alimony agreement. Or some spousal support agreements may increase the amount of alimony each month so the ex-spouse will be able to purchase their own medical coverage.

To be sure, spousal support will not automatically include health insurance coverage or money that is allotted for health coverage. If you want to make sure you and your children have healthcare coverage after a divorce, then you will need to discuss making healthcare insurance part of your divorce settlement. This will ensure that you will receive COBRA coverage for up to 36 months or an individual healthcare plan for the length of the alimony agreement.

Adding Health Insurance to Support Agreements

Health insurance coverage may be negotiated as part of your support agreement, particularly if you had insurance through your spouse’s employer or private policy during the marriage. When spousal support agreements also include allotments for the payment of healthcare premiums, the average surcharge is about $100 a month.

This means the alimony payments will include an additional $100 for health insurance, either paid directly to the ex-spouse or deducted from your paycheck as part of automatic payments to extend coverage to your ex-spouse through your insurance plan. If there are dependent children also on your plan, then additional charges will likely be added to your child support agreement.

What Happens After 36 Months?

After 36 months, health insurance coverage extended to you through COBRA benefits will not be able to be renewed. After this time, you will need to arrange for medical coverage through your own employer, through private health insurance, or through government plans. For dependent children, healthcare coverage may continue after 36 months if healthcare is included in the child support agreement. Otherwise, children will also need to be put on a new healthcare plan.

Does Healthcare Coverage Mean Dental and Vision?

Under COBRA plans, healthcare insurance covers both dental and vision plans if you had coverage for these health areas before your spouse was enrolled in COBRA through their employer, or if dental and vision benefits are offered by the employer’s health insurance. If your spouse never had vision or dental insurance through COBRA, then you will not be able to have vision and dental coverage after a divorce is finalized unless you apply for individual coverage yourself.

How Can a Texas Divorce Attorney Help You?

Navigating all the nuances of a divorce settlement can be difficult, particularly when some factors like health insurance coverage can make the process confusing. Furthermore, the Texas family court system can be complicated and has several requirements, deadlines, and ordinances that must be followed. If you and your ex-spouse have a difficult divorce, such as with a custody battle or with difficulty dividing assets fairly, then you will likely need to be represented by a divorce attorney in court.

Your divorce attorney will help you decide what you want out of your support agreement, including whether or not you want to continue to receive healthcare insurance coverage. An experienced lawyer will understand all of the rules and regulations that will help you maintain healthcare for you and any dependent children. Your lawyer will also look out for your best interests when it comes to the division of property, assets, child custody, and other aspects of your divorce settlement.

After a Texas divorce, it’s very common for an ex-spouse to be removed from healthcare policies because the law mandates only legal spouses and dependent children can be on a healthcare plan. That said, when insurance is covered through COBRA by an employee benefit plan, then you may be able to keep your previous healthcare coverage for up to 36 months if you file the correct paperwork. Contact Skillern Firm in Houston, TX to learn more about how to keep your health insurance after a divorce today.