By Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq., 301.563.6685
When going through a divorce, many people begin to pay close attention to their finances and try to cut extra spending. Whether it be for financial concerns or out of emotions, as an attorney, I am often faced with the same question of whether a client is going through an amicable divorce or if it has gotten ugly. All clients want to know what rights they have regarding health insurance and whether a party must still pay for their spouse’s health insurance costs when they are separated and divorced.
Do I Have to Pay My Spouse’s Health Insurance If We’re Divorcing?
The quick answer is yes—if you and your spouse are on the same plan, neither party should make any changes until either an agreement is reached when one spouse will move to a different policy or a court order is issued granting a divorce.
In a marriage, typically, one spouse will carry the entire family on a health insurance policy. But when the parties go through a divorce, health insurance payments and when a spouse will stop having coverage are critical issues to address.
Maryland Law Regarding Health Insurance & Divorce
Maryland law allows a judge to order one party to continue paying for health insurance coverage of their spouse until a final judgment of absolute divorce is issued. Once the judgment of absolute divorce is granted, that is deemed by most health insurance companies as a qualifying event, and the spouse who was being carried will no longer have coverage. Therefore, it is essential that if you are on your spouse’s health insurance policy that you do your homework and inquire into obtaining your own policy, whether that be through employment or independently.
How to Avoid a Lapse in Health Insurance Coverage
Often, employers only have open enrollment once a year. Therefore, I always recommend that spouses find out when their open enrollment period is, look into the costs they will incur by electing into that coverage and make informed decisions about the policy you need and the policy’s costs. Even if your employer does not have an open enrollment period, your employer should be able to give you information, and you can call the provider to see when they can enroll you and the costs that will be incurred. It is also essential that the spouse who was being carried call their current health care provider and inquire about whether they can stay on their current plan and, if so, for how long and any costs associated with continued coverage. This is often referred to as COBRA coverage and, though it varies by policy, most providers offer it.
You should also shop around and obtain the costs for coverage through other providers. The Affordable Care Act does give you health coverage choices and ways to save based upon your personal needs and will give you the information you need to make an informed decision on what policy suits your health needs and budget best.
Each health insurance plan operates differently, so do your homework to ensure that you do not have a lapse in coverage.
What to Do If Your Spouse Removes You from Their Policy
Suppose your spouse does remove you from your current health insurance policy that you were covered under. In that case, you should contact an attorney immediately and the plan administrator to ensure your rights are protected, and your coverage does not end. In Maryland, a court can require a spouse to reinstate a policy that they canceled and pay for any costs incurred as a result of that cancellation. Therefore, if you carry your spouse on your health insurance plan, do not have them removed. Doing so will cause you a much larger headache than it’s worth.
Need Help with Separation or Divorce? Call Me Today!
We know that going through a divorce can be overwhelming, but every ending is a new beginning. If you need help with any aspect of the separation or divorce process, the divorce and family law attorneys at Andalman & Flynn are here to help. If you need assistance resolving your divorce in court or through alternative means of resolution, please contact us online or at 301-563-6685.
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