How Can I Ensure I Receive COBRA Coverage After My Divorce?

health insurance spelled out on notebook

With all the upheaval a divorce can cause, making sure you still have health insurance at the end of divorce proceedings is hugely important. In the United States, we have the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for those times when unexpected events occur and affect one’s health insurance coverage. Please keep reading to learn more about COBRA and how it can help you stay covered by health insurance during this turbulent period in your life. As always, if you have any doubts, questions, or concerns about a divorce process you may be considering, contact a Shelby County, Tennessee divorce lawyer today. Don’t wait until the last minute and save yourself unnecessary stress with the help of a knowledgeable divorce lawyer.

What Is COBRA and Why Do I Need it in a Divorce?

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 is also known by its initials, COBRA. It is a federal law created to help employees and/or dependents who are in danger of losing their insurance. COBRA sets forth a series of circumstances in which beneficiaries may continue to pay for coverage for a limited amount of time. A qualifying beneficiary may be an employee as well as the employee’s dependents, their spouse and children. It is a potentially expensive alternative, as with COBRA, the beneficiary pays the entire insurance plan cost, instead of the employer paying some or all of it.

Qualifying employee beneficiaries may remain on a family health or dental plan for up to 18 months if work-related problems such as termination or loss of work hours occur. Qualifying dependent beneficiaries may remain on the coverage for 18 months in the same circumstances as qualifying employee beneficiaries. However, dependent beneficiaries may also stay on the same plan for an additional 18 months, or a total of 36 months, when they would otherwise lose their coverage due to specific events, among these the divorce of the employee and the spouse.

If you already have insurance independently of your spouse, COBRA may not be a necessity for you. However, if your health insurance is through your spouse, then it will be terminated once the divorce is finalized. (You should still be covered by the plan while the divorce is in progress.) At that point, you would need to get covered, whether through a job with health insurance, the state marketplaces, or COBRA during the transition period.

How Can I Ensure I Receive COBRA Coverage After My Divorce?

There are many questions to keep in mind about your situation which may impact whether you have access to COBRA coverage in the immediate post-divorce time.

How Many Employees Does the Employer Have?

Only employers with 20 or more employees are subject to COBRA provisions. This determination is not based on whether someone participates in the health care plan, but solely on whether they are or are not an employee.

Did the Employee or Non-Employee Spouse Notify the Plan Administrator About the Divorce in Time?

To be eligible for COBRA post-divorce, either the employee or non-employee spouse must get in touch with the group health plan administration and let them know about the divorce or separation. If this is not done within 60 days after the legal end of the relationship, COBRA rights won’t be recognized.

What Is the Financial State of the Non-Employee Spouse?

The cost of COBRA comes to 102% of the total monthly premium of the plan. If the non-employee now-former spouse stops paying the premiums, coverage will cease.