Understanding COBRA in Relation to Divorce
It can be difficult to understand the ins and outs of your divorce. If you are losing your current health insurance plan due to your divorce, and enrolling in COBRA, it can become even more overwhelming, and you may miss out on specific details regarding this health insurance program. In a divorce case, COBRA will only come into play when you have health insurance through your spouse’s employer, and therefore after the divorce you will subsequently lose such coverage. If COBRA is an option for you, your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney can provide you with information and factual guidance in relation to COBRA and your divorce.
COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. In general terms, this federal legislation is an alternative health insurance program that allows employees, and their dependents to continue with their current coverage for a duration of 3 years after the time their coverage should have originally terminated. However, there are certain requirements to be eligible for this coverage and you must take progressive action to become enrolled, and it is important to note the financial changes that will come along with this program.
There are certain eligibility requirements you or your spouse’s employer must fall under in order to qualify for COBRA coverage. One factor of COBRA is to whom this coverage is offered. These individuals include: employees, their spouses, and children. Specifically listed in COBRA eligibility are spouses, who become divorced from a covered employee. Therefore, you will satisfy this requirement. However, the employer must also qualify and offer COBRA as well. Companies with 20 or more full time employees are mandated to offer COBRA coverage. Therefore, if your spouse obtains your health insurance plan through a smaller employer, they may not offer such COBRA coverage. It is important to first consult the employer to discuss their available options.
If the employer offers COBRA, then you will be offered the option to continue their health insurance coverage, identical to the plan offered to the employee, your spouse. Therefore, you will be able to retain your same physician, network providers, and coverage for your preexisting conditions. However, the portion of the premium that was once paid by your spouse’s employer will no longer be available to you. Therefore, your costs will increase. It is important to compare this cost of a COBRA plan with an individual private plan option. Although your previous health insurance payments will increase, you will still be enrolled in the “family plan” coverage, which typically offers a discount in comparison to an individual plan. But once again, you may be able to retain similar coverage elsewhere with a lower premium payment plan.
After the event that would trigger the termination of coverage, your divorce, you have 60 days to elect to the continuation of your coverage under COBRA. Failure to enlist in the COBRA coverage within the 60 days, will remove your eligibility. If you do enroll in coverage, it can last for 3 years. However, COBRA may terminate your coverage if you fail to pay your premiums, or the employer terminates the group health plans. After the 3 year limitation, your coverage will terminate and you will no longer be eligible for coverage under this plan and must seek out alternative options.
Health insurance coverage can be an extremely complicated process and having a general understanding of what a specific coverage plan will entail and requires from you is important to recognize before making any final decisions. Discuss the relation between the option of COBRA health insurance coverage, and your divorce with your Tallahassee Divorce Attorney.
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