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Health Insurance Coverage After Divorce, Can it Be Extended?
 

 

May 1, 2017
Written by Lynne C. Halem

All the hullabaloo surrounding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, raised once again the specter of individuals without access to affordable health insurance. Despite the failure to repeal the ACA, divorcing couples may find their resources further eroded by increased family costs for health insurance.  Interestingly, loss of health insurance in divorce often has nothing to do with one spouse’s refusal to provide coverage to their former spouse; more frequently the loss of access is related to the nature of the health insurance carried by the soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Massachusetts’ law provides for continued coverage for divorcing spouses provided the insured party’s employer is not self-insured.  Thus although employers who are self-insured, such as MIT and Lowe’s Home Centers, are exempt from providing health insurance coverage to former spouses, many employers in the Commonwealth are not self-insured. Indeed some self- insured companies offer coverage even if not mandated to do so by law. 

The message to divorcing couples is clear: Health insurance needs to be given high priority in structuring your divorce agreement. Specifically, you need to consider the following: 

Let us assume that your employer is not self-insured and that continued coverage for your ex-spouse is available, saving the family a considerable outlay of additional funds.

Are there other questions you and your spouse need to consider?  The answer is a resounding “yes.”

The questions go on and on but remember the key and first questions pertain to access to coverage after divorce. Then the couple needs to explore questions related to responsibility for payment, and how access to/liability for that coverage, will change over time.

At CMDR we approach health insurance, like most other settlement issues, as a problem to be solved through allowing the couple the opportunity to work creatively and productively in reaching agreements that best serve the family. The mediator’s role in facilitating problem solving requires a deep understanding and knowledge of the issues to be tackled as well as the skills inherent in helping couples reach agreement. 


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