woman reviewing her health insurance

Ask the Attorney: What Happens to My Health Insurance During and After Divorce?

By Michael DiFalco

Divorce comes with a huge number of considerations. At the onset of a divorce, most people are immediately concerned with the biggest questions about dividing assets, determining custody, and identifying what type of alimony and child support arrangements will be set in place. 

However, soon enough, spouses begin considering additional concerns, and one of the most important is usually the question of health insurance.

Health Insurance Coverage During Divorce 

It’s best to consider your health insurance options long before a divorce is finalized. Healthcare costs are no small consideration; in fact, they can become one of your largest expenses, especially if you do not have health insurance or you are experiencing health issues. 

Most of the time, spouses don’t have many options when it comes to health insurance during a divorce. If one spouse provides the other’s insurance policy, that coverage must remain in place until the date the divorce is finalized. 

If one spouse attempts to remove the other from their insurance policy, they could be in violation of the Automatic Orders, and if they are, they can be court-ordered by the judge to have the policy reinstated. 

This means that until a divorce is complete, neither spouse can do much about an existing insurance policy. For the spouse who will lose coverage with the finalization of the divorce, the period during divorce proceedings is the time to consider health insurance coverage options and make a plan for future coverage. 

Health Insurance Options After Divorce

If you’re facing a divorce, it’s essential to weigh your options and create a plan before you find yourself without healthcare coverage. 

If you’re employed or plan to seek employment soon, pursuing health coverage through your employer will likely be your best option. 

If you’re not employed and don’t plan to take on a full-time employee position once the divorce is finalized, you still have several options for ensuring that you have health insurance. 

The most common health insurance options recommended after a divorce include: 

  • COBRA 
  • Marketplace
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare

If your age or income level means that you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, these may be your only insurance options. Fortunately, these ensure that most of your healthcare costs are free and acquiring coverage is straightforward. 

ACA Marketplace typically requires individuals to apply for a new plan during a specified open enrollment period. However, divorce counts as one of the situations that qualify you for special enrollment, which means that if you’re qualified based on income, you can apply for benefits regardless of the time of year.

COBRA allows for the short-term continuation of your previous coverage after a divorce. After losing employment, coverage lasts 18 months, but after a divorce, COBRA coverage can extend for 36 months. Newly divorced individuals often consider other options due to the high costs of COBRA’s continuation of previous coverage.

Health Insurance and Children After Divorce 

Health insurance coverage for children is often a central concern for divorcing spouses with a family. As with a spouse, children’s health insurance coverage typically cannot be changed until the divorce is finalized. 

Healthcare costs for children are usually arranged as part of discussions about child support and custody. Parents are encouraged to arrive at an agreement about who is responsible for providing health insurance and paying additional medical costs. 

In situations where one parent provided health insurance coverage before the divorce, it’s common for children to remain on that policy after the divorce is finalized and until the children are emancipated or even until age 26 under some agreements and other circumstances.

Consulting a New York Divorce Lawyer About Healthcare Concerns

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking health insurance during a divorce. Even if you’re in good health, it’s impossible to know when an accident or illness will happen, and you need to have coverage in place before it does. 

The experienced Garden City, NY, divorce lawyers at Aiello & DiFalco help advise and protect clients in all areas related to divorce – including dealing with the loss of health insurance coverage. 

Call Aiello & DiFalco today to consult a New York divorce lawyer about your options during a divorce. 

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.