Given the importance of health insurance, it is quite common for couples to worry about the impact that separation or divorce can have on their access to healthcare. A frequent concern is whether the demise of the marriage will result in the demise of your health insurance. Can you stay on your spouse's health insurance after divorce?
The basic question that people are concerned about is whether they can maintain their same insurance after a South Carolina divorce. The short answer, no. The long answer, still no – with one exception. If your spouse works for the State of South Carolina, you may be able to remain on his/her insurance indefinitely after your divorce, so long as your Divorce Decree clearly specifies that your spouse is required to continue this coverage. It is important to note that this is often a point of contention, as your former spouse may object because only one spouse (current or former) may be covered at any one time.
Virtually all health insurance plans prohibit you from remaining on your former spouse's health insurance after your divorce. However, your children can (and possibly should) remain on the same insurance. As the former spouse, although you have typically have no right to maintain your existing coverage, thankfully you aren't without options.
Once the divorce is final, divorced spouses often qualify for continuation coverage under COBRA for a specified period of time. COBRA is a temporary insurance coverage program that lasts a maximum of 36 months. At best, this is a temporary solution to a much larger problem, as COBRA can be quite expensive and the cost needs to be taken into consideration. As a result, it's often better to move onto your own policy as quickly as possible.
Another option that many divorcing couples consider is to opt for a legal separation rather than a divorce. This is because many insurance companies allow coverage for spouses to continue during a separation. However, this is not assured, because some health insurance companies view legal separation as the equivalent of a divorce and may therefore lead to coverage being discontinued. Make sure to check with the insurance carrier or benefits department about the options available to you.
Source: “Three of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Health Insurance,” by Jeff Landers, published at Forbes.com.