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What you can do about health insurance after divorce

After you get a divorce, one thing you might be struggling with is health insurance. There are a few different ways you can keep or get health insurance. Realistically, while a working partner maintains his or her own insurance after divorce and can provide that insurance to any children from the marriage, the spouse who is no longer married to that working partner is removed from the policy.

The spouse losing insurance may be able to apply for COBRA, a federal health insurance law that makes him or her eligible for continued coverage through the employer's plan. You must apply for this within 60 days of becoming divorced. Not all employers offer COBRA; the employer must have at least 20 employees to guarantee COBRA coverage.

Another possibility is to get insurance through your own employer. If you opt to get COBRA, you have to pay the entire premium for the plan, and the employer no longer covers any of the policy. With your own plan, your employer may pay for part of your premium.

If you do decide to get COBRA, know that it expires in 36 months. The idea is that you can have health insurance until you're able to obtain it for yourself. Be prepared for it to end, so you can make new arrangements for health insurance. For example, you could apply for self-pay health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Your attorney can help walk you through the various health insurance options while you're going through your divorce. Deciding what to do early on can help prevent you from going without.

Source: Women's Institute for Financial Education, "Maintaining Your Health Insurance After Divorce," Michele Sacks Lowenstein, accessed Jan. 12, 2017

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