If you obtained your health insurance through your spouse’s job, and you get a divorce, you will no longer be covered. Your children may continue to be covered, but it is important you find a new way to provide yourself with health insurance.
Luckily, there is a federal law that allows you to continue to get coverage from your former spouse’s employer. The law is called Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. COBRA allows you to maintain employee group health insurance for a specified amount of time.
There are several life events that allow you to qualify for COBRA, including divorce or legal separation. COBRA applies to a variety of employee group health plans, including plans sponsored by employers with at least 20 employers, plans sponsored by private and public employers, including corporations, partnerships, non-profit organizations and state and local governments, plans that provide health care through an insurance organization, and plans that cover medical, dental, or prescription drug expenses.
However, COBRA, does not apply to plans sponsored by small employers with less than 20 employees, plans sponsored by the federal government or religious organizations, or plans for life insurance of disability benefits. If you qualify for COBRA, you must inform your the employer’s health plan administrator of the divorce within 60 days. If you do not give the administrator notice then you will not qualify for COBRA.
You can continue COBRA insurance with your spouse’s employer for up to three years after your divorce. Coverage can be terminated if the employer stops offering health insurance all together, or if you fail to pay the premiums. As far as the cost of COBRA, you can be charged the entire cost of your health insurance coverage.
You may also have to pay the entire premium, including the portion paid by the employer. In addition, you can be charged a 2 percent administration fee; you may be charged 102 percent for the group rate.
If an employers fails to provide you with COBRA, they may be forced to pay you a fine of $110 per day. They may also have to pay your attorney fees and court costs if you choose to file a lawsuit to enforce COBRA. It’s important that you weigh your options before deciding on COBRA.
It may be cheaper for you to obtain insurance through your own employer. If you do not have this option, you may want to ask personnel at your doctor’s office for a list of private insurers that they accept, and for which ones make payments that are most hassle-free for you.