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5 things to know about your health insurance after a divorce

If you’re going through a divorce, you may have a long list of to-dos. Make sure your health insurance coverage is on it. Here’s why.

Getting a divorce is no easy feat. Even a “simple” separation can take hours of negotiation. Not to mention the personal and emotional toll that you might experience during the process.

There’s a lot to figure out during a divorce. One of the most important things you’ll want to stay on top of is your health insurance. Figuring out who stays on what plan, and who pays what, can be tricky — but it’s necessary.

If you’re going to lose your health plan in the divorce, you’ll want to have a new plan set up before you lose your coverage. Here are 5 tips to follow regarding your health insurance when going through a divorce.

Have questions about your health insurance coverage? Contact a licensed insurance agent at 1-844-211-7730 or explore your options here.

Tip #1. Make sure you discuss health insurance during the divorce negotiations

It’s easy for health insurance to get lost in the shuffle during a divorce. But you’ll want to write it into the separation agreements with everything else, says Michelle Katz. She’s a health care advocate based in Washington, D.C. If health insurance isn’t discussed now, one spouse and even the kids could end up without insurance.

If you’ve been a stay-at-home parent, for example, and got insurance through your spouse’s job, you may want to negotiate that they continue to pay for your health insurance for a certain number of years until you can find a job — and health insurance — of your own.

Tip #2. Decide whose plan your kids will be on

Children can usually stay on the existing insurance plan as a dependent. This is generally a good idea, says Katz, because it means they’ll continue to have the same coverage and the same doctors.

If needed, you can also switch them to the other parent’s insurance. Or you could even put them on both plans. That might be a good idea if the primary health insurance doesn’t fully cover your kids’ medical needs.

And remember, kids can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26, says Jenny Chung, C.F.P., C.I.M.A., C.D.F.A. She’s a wealth adviser at CI BDF Private Wealth in Chicago. So, even if your kids are over 18, you may still need to negotiate whose insurance plan they will be on after the divorce.

Tip #3. Include your kids’ insurance as part of child support

If you or your ex-spouse will be paying child support, federal law requires that medical support for them is included, too. You could cover your child as a dependent on your employer-sponsored health insurance. Or you could pay your child’s health insurance premiums or reimburse the parent who has custody if they’re the one providing coverage.

Another option? See if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Medicaid provides free or low-cost health insurance to low-income families. CHIP provides insurance for children only. But it’s an option if your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private coverage.>

Tip #4. Be prepared: You might lose your health insurance

Although your kids can stay covered under your spouse’s plan, you most likely cannot if you are not the policyholder. Once the divorce is finalized, you won’t be considered a family member anymore and won’t be covered on the plan, says Katz. You’ll have to find new insurance coverage and pay your own premium.

Ready to explore insurance plans where you live?

Tip #5. Don’t worry: You have options, even if you do lose your insurance

Luckily, there are several ways you can continue to have health insurance even after a divorce. Here are some options:

You can get help if you need it. A divorce lawyer will be key to negotiating your and your children’s health coverage during divorce proceedings. If you need new coverage following a divorce, reach out to a licensed insurance agent today at 1-844-211-7730 to get started.

They can help you navigate your options and find the best plan to meet your needs. For example, they can help you find a plan that fits your budget and covers the doctors and medications you need.

You can stay on your ex-spouse’s employer-sponsored coverage through COBRA. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It’s a law that requires group health plans, such as employer-sponsored plans, to offer temporary continuation of coverage that would otherwise be lost.

The law typically applies to employees who are let go from their jobs, so that they can keep their health plan. But spouses and children can also qualify in the case of divorce or death of the covered employee.

If you got your insurance through your ex-spouse’s employer, you may be able to continue it through COBRA for up to 36 months, says Chung. “It’s expensive, but if you choose COBRA, you’ll be able to stay with the same doctors that you’re used to,” she explains.

Why is COBRA so expensive? Employers typically pay at least half the cost of the monthly premium. If you continue your coverage through COBRA, you’ll have to pay the full cost, plus possibly a 2% administrative fee.

You have up to 60 days to enroll in COBRA after your divorce is finalized. But it’s a good idea to enroll sooner so you don’t have a lapse in your coverage.

Enroll in your own employer-sponsored coverage. If you currently have a job (or are imminently getting a new one), see if you can get insurance through your employer.

“It’s typically the easiest way to get coverage, has the lowest premiums and is deducted from your payroll so you get a tax benefit,” says Chung.

Talk to your employer about how to enroll in the company’s plan. There is typically a designated Open Enrollment Period during which employees can join or change their plan. But in the event of a divorce that causes you to lose your health insurance, you’ll qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and may be able to enroll once your divorce is finalized.

If you don’t currently work but plan on finding a job, you might want to look for one that provides health insurance. Ask for details on cost, coverage and whether you can add dependents to the plan. You’ll want to take all of that into consideration when negotiating a job offer.

Find out if you qualify for Medicaid. Out of a job? Medicaid is a government insurance program that provides free or low-cost health care coverage to over 85.9 million low-income Americans.

“Many divorced people overlook it, but if you were a stay-at-home parent and have little or no income, it may be an option,” says Katz. “Many people are ashamed to go on it, but it’s there for a reason. Once you get a job with health insurance, you’ll go off it. But it can help you get back on your feet.”

Eligibility for Medicaid is based on income or other medical needs. Each state runs their own Medicaid program, so income eligibility can vary. There are 2 ways you can apply: directly through your state or through the federal marketplace. You can also talk to a licensed insurance agent at 1-844-211-7730 about your options.

Shop for a new health insurance plan. If needed, you can also buy a new insurance plan on your own. You have a couple options here:

  • Shop for a health insurance plan. While Open Enrollment is normally only from November to mid-January, you should be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period for 60 days after your divorce, says Chung.
  • Look into short-term insurance if you only need temporary coverage. Maybe you just need some time before you figure out your long-term health insurance plan. For example, perhaps you plan on getting a job that provides health insurance. Or you’ve gotten a job, but there’s a waiting period before your coverage starts. That’s where short-term health insurance can help.

Short-term plans are sold by private insurance companies. You can apply any time and enroll in a plan for as little as a month or for up to 12 months. Need coverage for more than a year? Another option is TriTerm Medical, which can be renewed for up to 3 consecutive nearly 1-year terms.

Short-term insurance does require you to go through medical underwriting. That means you’ll have to share information about your health with the insurance company. Your eligibility, coverage and costs might depend on your health history.

There may be other limits and restrictions, so be sure to read the fine print. And laws around short-term health insurance vary from state to state. It might not be available where you live. Interested in learning more about your short-term health insurance options? Call a licensed insurance agent today at 1-844-211-7730 or explore your options.

Bottom line: Getting divorced can be a complicated process — and difficult, emotionally. But if you stay on top of your health insurance coverage, that can be one less thing to worry about.


Kaiser Family Foundation. “2022 Employer Health Benefits Survey: Section 6: Worker and Employer Contributions for Premiums.” October 27, 2022. Retrieved from “Medicaid.” Retrieved from Accessed April 26, 2023

Office of Child Support Enforcement. “Health Care.” March 29, 2023. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Who’s eligible for Medicaid?” Retrieved from Accessed April 26, 2023

U.S. Department of Labor. “FAQs on COBRA Continuation Health Coverage for Workers.” Retrieved from Accessed April 26, 2023

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