No. You can only drop your spouse from your health insurance plan during open enrollment or within 30 days of a qualifying event, such as divorce.
Many people list their spouse as a dependent on their health insurance policy. But due to major life events, such as a new job with better insurance or even divorce, you may need to remove them from your policy. Insurers consider these events as qualifying events and will allow you to remove your spouse from your health insurance policy.
But, you can’t drop a spouse or ex-spouse from your health insurance plan at just any time if you are not experiencing a qualifying event. You’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period. That goes for both employer-sponsored health insurance and Affordable Care Act marketplace plans.
- You can only drop a spouse from your health insurance plan during your open enrollment period or if you are experiencing a qualifying event.
- Your insurer will provide you with a list of qualifying events where they can make changes to your policy.
- You must remove your spouse from your health insurance policy within 30 days of the qualifying event.
Can I remove my spouse from my health insurance?
Your health insurance policy is not set in stone — you are able to remove your spouse or make other changes to your policy. But, you can only make these changes at certain times. Insurers will allow you to adjust your policy during the open enrollment period and within 30 days of a qualifying event, which is usually a major life milestone.
If you have a qualifying event and don’t make the change during those 30 days, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period. Ask your company’s health insurance administrator for a list of qualifying events that would allow them to make changes outside of the annual open enrollment period.
Generally, insurers consider the following a qualifying event:
- Birth or adoption
- 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 health coverage ends or begins
- Becoming entitled to (or lost entitlement to) Medicare or Medicaid
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.
How to remove a spouse from your health insurance policy
Removing a spouse from your health insurance policy — when allowed — is fairly simple.
During a qualifying event, you can remove your spouse in your policy’s online portal or by calling your insurer. You may need to work with your benefits coordinator if you receive health insurance through your employer. During open enrollment, you have the option to adjust all the details of your health insurance policy.
Can a spouse drop me from their health insurance?
Yes — again, only during open enrollment or a qualifying event.
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.
Penny Gusner contributed to this article.
Frequently asked questions
Can I remove my spouse from my health insurance if we are separated?
Yes, but only if you are legally separated. Many insurers will consider legal separation a qualifying event to remove your spouse from your health insurance policy.
Can I remove my spouse from my health insurance after open enrollment?
No. You can only remove your spouse from your health insurance during open enrollment unless you experience a qualifying event.
Can I drop my health insurance if my spouse gets a new job?
Yes. Most health insurance companies consider a job change a qualifying event and will allow you to make changes to your health insurance policy.