Understanding Health Insurance After a Divorce

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December 29, 2011

Planning your health coverage can be complicated and expensive, especially after a divorce. If you were insured through your spouse, your coverage may end when the court grants the divorce or legal separation. Federal law allows you to continue your coverage for up to three years. However, under Oregon Law, if you are aged 55 or older, have been covered for at least three months by your spouse’s plan, you may continue coverage (including dependents) until reaching Medicare eligibility. (Generally, a person becomes eligible for Medicare at age 65. For more information about Medicare, see https://www.medicare.gov/). These special provisions apply only to employers with 20 or more employees.

It is important to act quickly if you are to take advantage of the continuation benefits. You have 60 days from the judge’s declaration to notify the group health insurance plan administrator in writing of the dissolution or legal separation. You must also elect to continue and pay for the group coverage on a form provided by the plan administrator. Call your health insurance provider or speak with your employee benefits specialist to help contact this person.

Your continued coverage will most likely be more expensive than what you paid previously. Often, employers pay a portion or all of the premiums associated with a health plan. Under COBRA and Oregon state continuation laws, you are responsible for the entire cost of the health plan. If you fail to pay your premiums, you could lose your coverage.

Having uninterrupted health insurance coverage is very important, especially when changing providers. Gaps in coverage can sometimes result in limited initial benefits. Regardless of age, if you are currently navigating through a divorce, be sure to consult with your health insurer, employer, or attorney to see how Oregon and federal law may affect your coverage.