- Health Benefits Advisor
Legal separation and divorce can affect the health benefits available to you and your family. Knowing your options and understanding your rights can prevent a legal separation or divorce from resulting in the loss of your health care coverage.
Depending on your circumstances, if you and your dependent children were covered under your former spouse's group health plan before the divorce or legal separation, you and your dependent children may have the right to elect COBRA continuation coverage at group rates under the group health plan sponsored by your former spouse's employer, employee organization (such as a union), or both that previously covered you. You and your family members may also have the right to enroll in a group health plan sponsored by your employer, employee organization (such as a union), or both. There also may be health coverage opportunities available to you outside the group health plan context.
Additionally, in connection with your divorce, you may be able to obtain a Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMCSO) that requires your former spouse's group health plan to provide group health coverage to your eligible dependent children. A QMCSO requires the enrollment of a child of a participant in a group health plan. In general, a QMCSO is a judgment, decree, order, or notice issued by a state court or administrative agency that provides for the health coverage of a child of a participant, and that meets certain requirements under ERISA. More information is provided in the final QMCSO regulation.
Before making any decisions, you should carefully consider the information on COBRA continuation coverage and any other coverage for which you and your family members may be eligible to determine which one best meets your needs.
Which type of coverage would you like to consider?
- Enrollment in a group health plan offered through my job
- COBRA continuation coverage in my former spouse's plan
- Medicaid - Government-sponsored health benefits program for certain categories of low income individuals and individuals with special needs and their families.
- State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) - Government-sponsored health insurance program for children of qualified families. Each state determines the income level and other conditions for families to qualify. In most cases, eligible families can have income levels well above the national poverty level.
- Medicare - A Federally funded health benefits program for people aged 65 and over, and for certain people under 65 who are disabled or have permanent kidney failure.
- Other Health Coverage - This category includes coverage from another source, such as health coverage purchased individually, or through a club or association, or any other source not listed above.
NOTE: Your divorce may also affect your right to a portion of your former spouse's retirement benefits. More information is provided in the QDRO booklet. When finished, click on the BACK button to return to the Health Benefits Advisor.