HEALTH INSURANCE AFTER DIVORCE

Direct payment of a former spouse’s health insurance normally is not part of an alimony agreement or order. However, the recipient may wish to use some alimony payments to purchase health insurance if the recipient is not already covered. 

When a couple of divorces, the health insurance policy covering the family (if there was such a policy) no longer covers both spouses. The policy covers only the spouse who had insurance through work or an individual approach. Children who were covered under a family policy generally are still covered under the policy after a divorce. 

A federal law passed in the 1980s requires most employer-sponsored group health plans to offer divorced spouses of covered workers continued coverage at group rates for as long as three years after the divorce. The divorced spouse of a worker must pay for the content, but the range is available. 

A divorced spouse who wishes to take advantage of this law should act as soon as the divorce is final or as soon as the coverage has been lost. He or she should contact the covered worker’s employer (human relations or personnel department) to learn the steps that must be taken. Still, generally, the notification has to be within sixty days of the divorce or loss of coverage. Continued coverage is not automatic. The law provides that the worker’s employer must explain the divorced spouse’s right to continue coverage within fourteen days of being notified. The spouse has no more than sixty days to choose to continue the coverage. The employer will advise what content is available, its cost, and when payments must be made, and any steps that must be taken to establish eligibility for the health insurance. Health care reforms passed by Congress in 1996 make health insurance easier to obtain, significantly if a person is changing jobs. 

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