Divorce can be a challenging transition, and health insurance is likely not in the forefront of your mind. However, if you recently divorced your spouse, it might be time to get new health insurance – especially if you were on your spouse’s health insurance plan. We know you are likely stressed at the prospect of having to find your own insurance, but we are here to ease your worries!
The good news? A divorce is considered a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) which means you are now eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and can apply for a healthcare plan outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period.
If you are recently divorced, here’s what you need to know about getting a new health insurance plan.
What is a Qualifying Life Event?
A Qualifying Life Event (QLE) can be triggered by a change in your household, including marriage, the birth of a baby, or a divorce.
If you recently divorced or are legally separated from your spouse and have lost your existing health insurance as a result, you likely are eligible for a QLE. This event will allow you to apply for a new Affordable Care Act-compliant plan. Typically, you have 60 days to apply for a new plan and get covered during your Special Enrollment Period.
A caveat—a divorce only qualifies you for a QLE and subsequent SEP if you’ve lost your insurance because of the divorce. Not if you weren’t insured before the divorce, or if you are keeping your coverage after the divorce. These circumstances do not count as Qualifying Life Events.
If you were covered under your spouse’s health insurance plan and you get divorced, you will be dropped from the plan and vice-versa. Your spouse may be required to keep you on their health insurance until the divorce is finalized. If this is the case and you are dropped from coverage beforehand, they will be required by law to add you back.
That being said, it’s important to remember that your children will not be automatically dropped from a health insurance plan following a divorce.
If you decide to get a family health insurance plan once the divorce is finalized and your ex-spouse has a family plan as well, your children can be insured under both plans.
What’s the Best Option?
If your employer offers health insurance, you might want to consider this employer-sponsored option. In most cases, an employer-sponsored health plan will be the most affordable option and is likely easiest to enroll in.
Remember, you have 60 days during the Special Enrollment Periodto enroll in a new health insurance plan.
It is important to enroll during your SEP because if you don’t, you’ll have to wait until the annual Open Enrollment Period at the end of the year.
Can I Keep My Insurance?
If you want to keep the same health insurance plan following your divorce, you have the option to continue your coverage through COBRA. You have 60 days to decide to continue your coverage and you might be allowed to keep your current health insurance for 36 months through COBRA.
Keep in mind, COBRA tends to be expensive, since you are paying the full premium, plus a fee. If you can afford the added fees of a COBRA plan, it can give you time to figure out your next steps after your divorce. But if COBRA is outside of your budget, the Special Enrollment Period is likely the better option for you.
If you are unsure which insurance option is best for you and your family, our qualified team of independent health insurance agents at McKnight & McKnight Insurance can help. Schedule a call with us today!
Is Medicaid an Option?
Depending on your income level after your divorce, you may be eligible for Medicaid health insurance. The Medicaid program is jointly funded by the federal government and your state to provide health insurance coverage to low-income Americans. Eligibility for the Medicaid program will be determined based on your income level.
Get Health Insurance Coverage Following a Divorce
Every divorce is unique, but it’s clear that it is a BIG life change. While you might be able to get coverage through your workplace or use COBRA to keep your current coverage, it is important to consider whether you want to look for new health coverage during the Special Enrollment Period. Our team of independent, licensed agents is here to help you compare health plans and decide on what is best for you and your family.