Families often receive health insurance as part of a group plan through one spouse’s employer, but when the spouses divorce, one spouse can lose her eligibility for coverage. However, a spouse who loses her eligibility because of divorce can elect to continue coverage -- with certain restrictions -- and Ohio courts can require one spouse to pay for a portion of the other spouse’s post-divorce coverage.
A spouse who loses coverage because she becomes divorced from the spouse who carried coverage under his employer’s group plan can continue her coverage under COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986. However, COBRA requires the uncovered spouse to pay the full premium cost for her continuing coverage, so COBRA insurance can be expensive. COBRA eligibility only lasts for 36 months, and the uncovered spouse must notify the plan’s administrator within 31 days of the divorce that she intends to elect COBRA coverage.
A marital settlement agreement or divorce decree can dictate that one spouse maintain an individual insurance plan for the other spouse or contribute money toward the other spouse’s individual plan payments or COBRA payments. The agreement or decree can clarify this obligation by stating exactly how much money the paying spouse must contribute and how long he must pay. Courts can also consider the cost of medical insurance when determining alimony in Ohio, so the court can increase the paying spouse’s alimony amount to cover the cost of the recipient spouse’s insurance.
Eligibility During Divorce
Though a spouse’s eligibility for coverage often changes with divorce, the spouse through which the family receives insurance cannot terminate the health insurance of his spouse or children until the divorce is final. This prevents the other spouse from losing coverage at the whim of the covered spouse. However, spouses can make changes to their health insurance coverage if they first get permission from the court to do so.
Children’s health insurance eligibility does not necessarily change when their parents divorce. Typically, children are covered under an employer-sponsored group plan regardless of whether their parents are married. Under Ohio law, either parent -- or both parents -- can be ordered to provide health insurance or pay for health insurance as part of a child support order.