Health Insurance After Divorce: What Are Your Options?

Not only can divorce break your heart, it can have a negative effect on your health - especially if you are at risk of losing your spouse's health insurance benefits. In fact, many couples who are on the verge of divorce actually stay in the marriage in order to keep their health insurance coverage intact.

And studies show that there is a good reason for that - especially if for women. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan, 16 percent of women will lose their health insurance and go without it for two years within six months of getting divorced.

Health Insurance Options When You're Divorcing

COBRA. If you had been covered by your spouse's workplace health insurance, you may qualify for coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. In order to qualify, you must notify the health care plan administrator within 60 days of your divorce being finalized.

If you're considering this option for your health care, keep in mind that COBRA coverage only lasts for 36 months and it can be extremely costly. In addition, if you get ill while being covered under COBRA, you may have a difficult time getting other coverage in the future because insurance companies may consider the illness a pre-existing condition when you apply for a new policy.

Insurance from your job. If you were getting your health insurance from your ex-spouse, after your divorce, you should talk to your employer's human resources department if the organization offers health benefits. Since divorce is considered a qualifying event, you will be able to qualify for your workplace's benefits during open enrollment periods.

Private insurance. If you are unable to get health insurance through your job, or if you're unemployed, you may be able to receive insurance on the private market - which, in some cases, may be more cost effective than getting COBRA through your ex-spouse's employer.

Medicaid. Depending on what state you live in, you may be eligible for Medicaid if you have children and your income is low. If you don't have children, however, it can be extremely difficult to qualify for these benefits, even with a low income.

If you are considering filing for divorce, speak to an experienced family law attorney to understand how to move forward. There may be several items that you need to consider as you go through the process, and it can be difficult to know how best to protect yourself.