The lockdowns, turmoil, and election year coverage have presented us with a lot of intriguing situations. We’re consuming more media than ever, we’re spending more time in the house, and we’re seeing our significant others a lot more.
For Better or for Worse? New Stresses Brought on by Lockdowns
For some, this has resulted in a rekindling—those who have had relationships strained by poor work-life balance may have ended up closer together.
However, this has resulted in unique stresses. Maybe the extra time spent at home has presented you with an opportunity for a remodel. Maybe you realized that there’s a bigger political divide than you had ever known. Maybe the sheer amount of time spent with this person has exposed you to things you considered small habits—until you saw them every single day for six-plus months.
For many, the lockdowns have resulted in irreparable damage.
- That remodel mentioned above? Huge risk—50 percent of remodels result in significant marital stress, with 12 percent polled by Houzz.com indicating that the stress has led them to consider or pursue divorce.
- The political divide? Significant stress. Many have been convinced by the media that someone on the other side of the aisle is either naïve or downright evil—we’re certainly not living in a world of Mary Matalin and James Carville.
- Habits might turn into addictions or may end up destroying relationships. Lockdown-driven unemployment and social distancing has resulted in mental health issues. Increased stress and idle time has also resulted in increased cases of addiction and abuse.
Sadly, the increased time spent together has had the opposite effect on many Americans. More and more people are drinking, fighting, and unfortunately realizing that the person they once thought was the love of their life is no longer the person they knew.
How Divorce Affects Health Insurance
According to attorney matching service Legal Services Link, lockdowns have put a lot of stress on marriages, and the pandemic has caused a surge in the number of calls to divorce lawyers across the country.
But while many are focused on the distribution of assets, custody proceedings, and maintenance, one thing that those preparing for a divorce need to focus on is the area of health insurance. Whether you’re approaching divorce mutually and cordially or are preparing for a long-fought legal battle, it’s important to understand how health insurance will work during and after the process.
During the Proceedings
For those approaching a divorce, health insurance remains consistent. When a divorce is filed, the party paying for health insurance cannot remove the spouse from health insurance. This comes as a result of the Automatic Temporary Restraining Order that goes into effect, in which neither party may sell or dispose of property or other assets from the marriage.
In turn, the spouse paying for the health insurance is forbidden from removing the other from a policy without a court order.
After the Proceedings
Especially if you were the party who was covered by your ex-spouse’s insurance, you likely need to take steps to remain covered. Once the case is closed, there will likely be no obligation to pay outside of coverage for children.
Though you and your ex-spouse may come to an agreement or may be able to make a settlement in which he or she continues to cover you after the case is closed, this is rare and should be discussed with your attorney.
Health Insurance Options after a Divorce
Whether it’s through an employer, a continuation under COBRA, or enrolling in Marketplace Coverage through a Special Enrollment Period, you do have options.
Enrolling under Your Own Employer
Often the easiest and most cost-effective way to obtain health insurance coverage after a divorce, it’s likely that you can obtain coverage under your own employer. Much like enrolling under a Marketplace plan, a divorce triggers a Special Enrollment Period that allows you to enroll outside of the normal timeframe. Simply speak with your HR department about coverage and discuss options.
COBRA is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, and gives employees in certain situations the right to pay premiums for and keep the group health insurance that they would otherwise lose.
According to Cordell and Cordell, COBRA requires that group plans sponsored by employers with at least 20 employees in the year immediately preceding the qualifying event, such as divorce, offer the employee and the employee’s family the opportunity to extend their coverage, which would otherwise terminate. If you have been notified, you have a limited time to request health insurance coverage.
Knowing this, COBRA coverage is not cheap, as you will pay for both the employer contribution to premiums as well as your ex-spouse—in addition to maintenance fees. Learn more about COBRA coverage in our guide to deciding between COBRA and Marketplace Coverage.
Short term health insurance is a type of health plan that can provide you with temporary medical coverage when you are between health plans, outside enrollment periods, and need coverage. These plans exist to bridge the gap between loss of insurance and the start date of new insurance.
Maybe this serves as a way to get you to Open Enrollment or maybe you use it as a way to hold you over en route to a new job, but selecting this type of coverage will expose you to its own challenges. From denial based on preexisting conditions to different benefits covered, these may offer lower premiums, but it’s important to understand what you’re going to get.
Marketplace Coverage/Affordable Care Act
If you are not eligible for insurance under your employer, the easiest option to get covered may be to enroll in a healthcare.gov marketplace plan. These plans, called Marketplace plans, offer a variety of options for enrollees, depending on the state in which you enroll and the benefits you need.
Qualifying Life Event (QLE) Triggers Special Enrollment Period
If the divorce is finalized outside of the Open Enrollment window, fear not, you also are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. Filed under “Changes in Household,” divorce is one of the many Qualifying Life Events that allow you to enroll in coverage outside of open enrollment.
Metals, Essential Benefits, Subsidies, and Credits: Understanding Your Options
Though it may be easy to obtain coverage through the ACA marketplace, it’s not exactly an easy excursion—especially if you’ve never shopped for insurance. Understanding how a gold plan differs from a platinum one, finding out whether you can keep your provider, and finding out whether you can get credits or subsidies is a challenge.
Insurance Broker Hub: Helping You Find the Right Plan—At No Cost to You
Divorces are stressful. Shopping for insurance doesn’t need to be.
Finding health insurance is still one of those things that is a mystery for many Americans, and navigating the maze that is healthcare.gov is rarely as easy as promised. If you’re looking for help understanding your options, Insurance Broker Hub can help.
Our free service gives you access to an independent network of national brokers who have the experience and expertise to design a plan around your needs and budget. Ready to get started? Simply request a no obligation health insurance quote here.