Good health insurance policies are becoming notoriously difficult to find or afford, even after numerous government programs and plans. If you are like many other Californians, you actually rely on your spouse’s health insurance coverage for your own health issues. You might be troubled, then, by what could happen to your policy if you legally separate.
Can You Lose Health Care Benefits in Legal Separation?
Although legal separation is definitively different from a divorce, some insurance companies can consider them one and the same, which would cause you to lose your benefits if you separate. You would only be entitled to stay on their insurance plan if a court order specifically demanded that you not be removed due to your legal separation. Your ex can also file a petition at any time to have you removed from their health insurance but it needs to go through the court for approval; this gives you a chance to argue why you still require the insurance.
There is a program called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that could permit you to stay covered under your ex-spouse’s plan for a limited duration, regardless of what they might think. Under COBRA, your benefits should not change but you would be held responsible for premiums and copay amounts. It is essentially there to help keep you afloat while you attempt to find your own health insurance elsewhere, perhaps through gainful employment. If you are removed from their policy despite COBRA or a court’s order to keep you on, legal action and possibly litigation might be the only solution to right the situation.
Addressing Health Insurance Issues After Separation
The best way to avoid losing your health insurance benefits after going through a legal separation may be to talk to your ex beforehand about what is going to happen. If your divorce was amicable and uncontested, they may have no problem keeping you on for a while. The important thing is to get everything in writing; relying on someone’s word, especially your ex’s, can be unstable ground in any consequent courtroom proceedings.
For help through this entire process, be sure to contact our Murrieta family law attorneys from Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. Attorney Danica Hanich is a Certified Family Law Specialist with the California Board of Legal Specialization. For more than a decade, she focused entirely on family law, divorce, and related fields.
For more information about legal separation and health insurance, call (951) 506-6654 to speak with a Murrieta divorce attorney.