Health Insurance and Divorce

           One of the most common questions we receive about the divorce process is “what happens to my health insurance after my divorce?”  Whether a spouse (herein referred to as a “dependent spouse”) may continue to stay on their ex-spouse’s health insurance (herein referred to as a “subscriber spouse”) after the divorce depends on a number of factors.  The two most important factors to examine are what State the subscriber spouse is employed in and whether the subscriber spouse is covered by a group plan or whether the subscriber spouse’s employer is self-insured.

           New Hampshire group health insurance plans typically allow a dependent spouse to stay on a subscriber spouse’ insurance for a period of up to three years after the divorce. 

           RSA 415:18, VII-b provides that a dependent spouse remains eligible for coverage until the earliest of the following events occurs:

           (1) The 3-year anniversary of the final decree of divorce or legal separation;
           (2) The remarriage of the dependent spouse;
           (3) The remarriage of the subscriber spouse;
           (4) The death of the subscriber spouse; or
           (5) An earlier time stated in the final divorce decree.

           Insurers are required to make health insurance available to the dependent spouse without additional premiums. 

           Massachusetts law (G.L. c. 175 §110I) requires Massachusetts insurance plans to contain similar provisions to New Hampshire with some key differences.  Specifically, eligibility for coverage in Massachusetts last as long as the subscriber spouse is a participant in the group plan. The three year limitation in New Hampshire does not exist.  As a result, dependent spouse’s may be entitled to remain on their spouse’s health insurance plan for a long period of time if the subscriber spouse has a Massachusetts plan. Additionally, for Massachusetts plan, although coverage ends upon remarriage of the dependent spouse, a divorce decree may be written to contain language providing for coverage to continue upon remarriage of the subscriber spouse (though there is generally an additional cost associated with this.)

           Health insurance can be a difficult topic to navigate. Our attorneys at Soule, Leslie, Kidder, Sayward & Loughman have extensive experience in helping our clients navigate the health insurance issues that arise in the divorce process.  If you would like to discuss your divorce case with us, feel free to contact us to speak with our family law team.

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