Ask the Health Insurance Expert
QCan a soon-to-be ex-wife keep her health insurance coverage offered under her soon-to-be ex-husband's group policy after the divorce?
No, an ex-spouse is no longer considered a "dependent," but children can remain on the health plan. Health insurance is among the many important issues you need to think about if you're contemplating divorce.
Once the couple in question has filed for divorce, the husband must inform his employer or health plan administrator. Most likely he'll have to fill out an enrollment or change-of-policy form, which is then forwarded to the health insurance provider, who makes the adjustment to the policy.
Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, also known as COBRA, the ex-wife can buy up to 36 months of health coverage through her ex-husband's group health plan if the employer has at least 20 employees. After the husband notifies his employer of the divorce, the employer will send notices to the ex-wife, informing her of her rights to COBRA coverage. The employer will no longer share the cost of the premium and the ex-wife will have to pay 100 percent of the premium plus a 2 percent administrative fee to get coverage under COBRA.
In that case, the ex-wife may want to consider buying individual health insurance if she doesn't have access to coverage through her own employer.
If the couple has children, the kids can remain on the ex-husband's group policy, but other alternatives should be considered if the children move out of the region with the ex-wife and are no longer near the group health plan's network of providers.