Insurance Tips When You Get Divorced

Medically Reviewed by Sarah Goodell on June 20, 2022
2 min read

Many married couples rely on one partner's health insurance plan. If you just got divorced, or you're in the middle of getting divorced, you may need to make new coverage plans.

Follow these tips to keep your health coverage going for yourself and your kids.

Sometimes health insurance can be included in a divorce settlement.

Let's say you had been getting health coverage on your spouse's plan. When you get divorced you might be able to put a requirement in the settlement that your former spouse continue to provide coverage for you and your children.

Now let's say it's the opposite situation. You're getting divorced and you're the one who had a health plan that covered your spouse. If that's the case, keep in mind that after you get divorced, your insurance plan may charge an additional premium for your ex-spouse.

After you get divorced, you may be able to temporarily keep your health coverage through a law known as "COBRA." If your former spouse got insurance through an employer that has at least 20 employees, COBRA lets you stay on that plan for up to 36 months. You can keep that plan unless you remarry or enroll in a new plan.

But insurance through COBRA can be expensive. Even though COBRA lets you stay on your former spouse's plan, you'll have to pay all of the monthly premiums yourself, without any contribution from the employer. It's important to learn what those premiums are so you can figure out your budget after you get divorced.

Also, in order to get COBRA coverage, you need to tell the administrator of the health plan within 60 days of your divorce or legal separation.

If you are employed, you may find it less expensive to sign up with your own employer's plan rather than pay premiums charged by the plan of your ex-spouse. While most plans do not allow employees to join or make changes to coverage outside the once-yearly period known as open enrollment, exceptions are made for major life changes, including divorce.

Ask the human resources department for details about post-divorce coverage and, if it is available, how long it will last. If coverage under that plan can be arranged, make sure you know the cost of the premiums you will have to pay.

If you get divorced and lose your insurance or can’t afford the COBRA premiums, you also have the option of purchasing insurance through your state Marketplace. A divorce qualifies you for a special open enrollment period which allows you to purchase coverage even if you may be outside the Marketplace coverage. You may even qualify for a subsidy to pay for your premium or a reducation in your cost-sharing, particularly if you have a loss in income following the divorce.