When Divorce is Bad For Your Health – Medical Insurance Coverage has an Expiration Date

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Bronze Medical SymbolJournal of Health and Social Behavior by the University of Michigan in December 2012 revealed that on average 115,000 women each year lose private health insurance benefits after a divorce, and of this 115,000, more than half remain uninsured for more than one month after the divorce is finalized. The toll is even higher in situations where a divorced woman, previously covered by their spouse’s medical insurance, is not offered medical insurance by her employer. One quarter of these women are without health insurance six months after the divorce is finalized. While this poll was limited to women, many divorcing men face similar circumstances.

Once you are divorced, you cannot remain on your spouse’s insurance. While you may qualify for COBRA benefits, the monthly payments are generally very high and coverage is currently only available for a maximum of 36 months. If you are covered solely by your spouse’s insurance, or have an illness that requires long term care, it is integral that you discuss your healthcare with your attorney and make sure that it receives attention during settlement negotiations. The entry of a Final Judgment of Divorce will serve as an expiration date for Medical Insurance Coverage absent COBRA. Understanding and addressing this important issue should not be delayed until the end of a divorce action.

Joe Russell is a Senior Associate at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, a R. 1:40 Qualified Mediator and has been selected for inclusion in New Jersey Super Lawyers®–Rising Stars Edition (2010), (2011), (2012) and (2013). Joe maintains an office in Wilentz’s Woodbridge and Eatontown locations though he regularly practices throughout New Jersey including Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, Somerset, Union, Essex and Morris County. You can reach Joe at (732)726-6236, or jrussell@wilentz.com.