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You can't drop a spouse or ex-spouse from your health insurance plan until the next open enrollment period -- unless you have a qualifying event. That goes for both employer-sponsored health insurance and Affordable Care Act marketplace plans.

You can ask your company’s health insurance administrator for a list of qualifying events that would allow him to make changes outside of the annual open enrollment period. Generally, the following events will allow employees to make changes outside of open enrollment, including removing a spouse from health insurance coverage:

  • Marriage.
  • Birth or adoption.
  • Going through a divorce or legal separation.
  • Death of spouse or dependent.
  • Dependent has changed in eligibility status (e.g. child ages off policy at 26).
  • Change in employment status for you, spouse, or dependent.
  • You experience an increase or reduction to hours affecting your eligibility for the health plan.
  • Change in residence.
  • Other coverage ends.
  • Becoming entitled to (or lost entitlement to) Medicare or Medicaid.

If any of the above situations apply, you may be able to remove your spouse from a health insurance plan (if the removal is consistent with the event). The removal from the health plan must happen within 30 days of the qualifying event. If you don't make the change during those 30 days, you'll have to wait until the next open enrollment period.

Employers have their own open enrollment periods -- often in the fall or winter. The Affordable Care Act marketplace's open enrollment period is between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 in most states.

If your spouse removes you from health insurance coverage, you have multiple health coverage options. You can actually stay with the same coverage through COBRA (which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). COBRA coverage lets people stay on the former plan for a limited time. You get to benefit from the same health insurance plan and provider network, but you no longer get help from the employer. Instead, you have to pay for all of the insurance costs, which can be excessive.

Another option is an Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace plan. Marketplace insurance plans offer subsidies based on your income, which help you pay for coverage. Most areas have multiple insurance companies and options in the ACA marketplace.

A third choice available in most states is short-term health insurance. Short-term health plans offer limited benefits at low rates. In most states, you can keep a short-term plan for a year and request two renewals. However, some states forbid the plans, while others have stricter time limits. Short-term plans should not be seen as a long-term health coverage option.