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Health Insurance and Divorce in Georgia

It is important to consider how every aspect of your life will be impacted during and after a divorce.  For example, how a divorce will affect your health insurance is often overlooked – but a very important issued that needs to be considered.  One of the main concerns is how much time will the spouse have left on their prior coverage so they can find another health insurance plan.  For those that are worried about their health insurance and how it will change due to a divorce, there are some options.  For example, it is quite common for a spouse to be automatically removed from their spouse’s employer’s health insurance shortly after the conclusion of a divorce.  However, federal law also mandates that coverage be offered as a continuation health insurance plan, which is commonly referred to as COBRA (discussed further below).

Health Insurance in a Divorce
Due to the importance of having health coverage, it is possible that some divorce settlements or final judgments include that health insurance that was provided by the other spouse during the marriage still be provided in some form after a divorce.  This will be particularly true if the other did not hold a job outside of the home and it is difficult for them to acquire health insurance on their own.

In regard to the spouse, who is the owner of the health insurance policy, they may have to pay extra premiums to keep insuring the ex-spouse and their children.  It is possible that there may not be a need for extra premium expenses because some policies might allow continued coverage for the family even after a divorce.  However, this may cease to be an option if the policy holding spouse re-marries and wants to include their new spouse in their health insurance.

Individual Health Insurance in the Family
Should the concerns about health insurance not be included in the divorce settlement, the uninsured spouse may need to rush and determine what will happen to their coverage due to the family’s individual health insurance policy.  It is entirely possible that the insurance for one of the spouses and the children to be terminated.  If you are worried this might happen, it is recommended that you speak with your health insurance agent to find out if you will still be covered and for how long.  If it turns out you are still covered, find out how much the premium costs will be for the next year, it is also good to begin looking for another health insurance plan.

Health Insurance and the Children
If at all possible, the divorcing spouses should try to reach an agreement in regards to the children and their health insurance.  Children’s health insurance responsibility is generally included in the child support portion of a divorce agreement.  Should the parent that has the responsibility to provide health insurance for the children or the insurance company become difficult to work with or refuses to cooperate, there are options that can be pursued.

In Georgia, many children are covered through the state’s PeachCare for Kids health insurance plan.  Congress created Title XXI of the Social Security Act in 1977 to provide health care for uninsured children in the United States.  As a result, in 1999 Georgia’s PeachCare for Kinds program was created – and many married and single parent’s children are have health insurance through PeachCare.  However, even if your children do qualify for PeachCare, it is not the same as family coverage in that adults are not insured.

There is a court order, known as the Qualified Medical Child Support which is often abbreviated as QMCSO, which can ensure the children’s coverage.  The QMCSO states that the parent that has custody has the right to acquire health insurance for the children through the noncustodial parents’ health insurance, provided the noncustodial parent has insurance.  It is not possible to deny the children coverage although it is possible to place restrictions on the coverage, it is also good to know that the QMCSO does not require any additional benefits be provided that are not included in the coverage. It is also possible for the QMCSO to require that the premium payment be taken out of the insured spouses’ paycheck. It is also important to remember that the parent responsible for providing coverage cannot choose a plan that is unsuitable for the children.  The custodial parent is encourage to obtain copies of the ex-spouses’ health insurance documents.

Coverage through an Ex-Spouses’ Employer
It is possible to receive temporary health insurance from an ex-spouses’ employer due to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, otherwise known as COBRA.  COBRA helps in making sure employees and their dependents still have health insurance in the event of job loss or a divorce; however – for this to be an option – the company must have twenty (20) or more employees.  The divorced spouse has the option to continue being covered under the employer’s health insurance plan for up to thirty-six (36) months after the divorce, at their own expense.

COBRA coverage cannot go over 102% of the cost of the plan.  However, since most employers subsidize the cost of health insurance – this amount can be quite large, since is will no longer be subsidized by the employer.   It is also important to remember that COBRA coverage will end before the thirty-six (36) months should the receiving spouse re-marry or get health insurance from another provider.Cv

Coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “ObamaCare”, a divorce is considered a qualifying event that one can use to apply for health coverage even after the annual open enrollment period has ended.  Insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has the advantages of no pre-existing conditions exclusions, and both adults and children can be covered with the available plans.  The rates for insurance vary by:

  1. The level of coverage you choose
  2. Whether you qualify for a subsidy
  3. Where you live in Georgia
  4. Your age
  5. Whether you smoke

Click here for additional information:  Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

If you are facing divorce, call us at 770-609-1247 to discuss your options with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.

 

 

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