Going through a divorce is often a difficult, scary and overwhelming time. There’s a lot to consider and negotiate while you’re working through the legal aspects of a divorce, like dividing up the assets and agreeing on a custody arrangement for the children. Emotions are high: there may be sadness, regret and anger for the way the relationship unraveled. There may also be apprehension about what the future will bring. This anxiety is likely to grown even greater when health insurance is a factor.
It’s very common for the family to have one insurance policy, usually through one of the spouse’s employers. The person with the best insurance policy available typically enrolls the whole family in the plan, but this becomes a problem when a couple divorces. The partner who isn’t working for the company providing health care coverage usually loses it; any children can stay on the policy, but in most cases a former spouse is no longer eligible for continued insurance coverage.
So, what’s the uninsured partner to do? Not having insurance coverage can be dangerous: an unexpected injury or illness can result in huge medical bills quickly. Luckily there are several options available to help you get insurance coverage again if you lose it in a divorce.
You may qualify to continue on the same insurance plan through COBRA. Find out by contacting the plan administrator. COBRA policies can be expensive and are only available as a short term solution, but it’s one way to stay covered while you’re unemployed. Coverage is usually available for up to eighteen months, and it can be a good option for those who have upcoming or ongoing medical procedures scheduled that switching to a new insurance policy may complicate or delay.
If you’re employed, speak to the human resources department or person who handles administering employee benefits. If you qualify for health insurance, you may have to wait for the next open enrollment period. However, many plans over early entrance due to life changing circumstances and divorces typically qualify. This will allow you to get on your employer’s plan as soon as the divorce is finalized.
Personal health insurance plans are a good option for people who aren’t employed or self-employed, don’t qualify for their employer’s plan or have a long wait before they are eligible for enrolling in an employer-sponsored insurance plan. These plans are usually more expensive than those offered by employers, and age and physical health are taken into consideration when pricing is determined. It can be difficult for someone with even minor pre-existing medical conditions to receive coverage through a private plan. You may be denied coverage if you have ever had high blood pressure, a miscarriage or taken anti-depressants. Smokers and those who are overweight may be ineligible as well.
If none of these options work for your situation, there are many discount plans available. They don’t offer the peace of mind that comes with a good health insurance policy, but may lower costs when medical treatment is needed. Explore all of the options before your divorce is finalized, so you can figure the cost of insurance into your settlement if that is an option.
Author Bio: Felicia Baratz is a freelance writer and graphic designer living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor to eatbreatheblog.com, she touches on green innovations and practices like green moving and transportation.