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What is COBRA Health Insurance? How Do I Get Health Insurance When I Get Divorced if My Spouse Has Been Covering Me?

By Maxine Weiss Kunz

COBRA health insurance, skokie divorce lawyerMany people going through a divorce wonder how they will obtain health insurance if they have been covered by their spouse during the marriage. One option is to “COBRA” off the health insurance of your soon to be former spouse.

COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act which requires group health plans to provide a temporary continuation of group health coverage in certain situations, including divorce or legal separation. Divorce or legal separation are considered a “qualified event” which would trigger your right to COBRA. COBRA coverage can also cover dependents (your children).

There is a time limit for electing COBRA coverage. If you are eligible for COBRA insurance, you must elect within 60 days of the qualifying event (i.e., your date of divorce). Some Plans will give you less than 60 days but all Plans must give you at least 60 days to determine if you will elect COBRA coverage.

One positive component to COBRA health insurance coverage is that the coverage must be identical to the coverage currently available to you under the original Plan. A negative component to COBRA is that it is usually expensive (you pay out-of-pocket for the entire premium) and it ends within 18-36 months following the qualifying event (i.e., your date of legal separation).

Thirty-six (36) months is the maximum duration of COBRA coverage following a divorce unless the Plan provides an exception. These exceptions are Plan specific and you should never assume your Plan will grant exceptions.

Some health insurance plans are not subject to COBRA, so make sure to consult the Plan before depending on this option. For example, the Federal Government and Church-related jobs are exempt from this law and certain employers with, for e.g., less than 20 employees may be exempt.

COBRA is just one option when seeking health insurance options following a divorce or dissolution. Your lawyer can help you determine other options that may or may not be a better fit for you.

For more information about COBRA health insurance or divorce, contact the knowledgeable Skokie divorce lawyers at Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC. We have four convenient offices, with two located in downtown Chicago and others in Lincolnwood and Elmhurst. Call 312-605-4041 to schedule an initial consultation today.

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