In many marriages, one couple carries health insurance that covers their spouse and children. Once a couple decides to divorce, one of the most common questions we get is about what happens to the spouse who does not carry health insurance after a divorce. Typically, although not in every case, women tend to be more dependent on their spouse for health insurance coverage. Regardless of where you are in the divorce process, it’s important that you know what your rights are.
In New Hampshire the law was built to protect a former spouse and ensure they have health insurance. Depending on the circumstances, that spouse may be entitled to continued health insurance at no additional cost after the divorce.
Important Health Insurance Laws
Health insurance has long been a topic of discussion among political talking heads and politicians alike. There are a couple of important laws that individuals need to be aware of as they begin to explore the ins and outs of healthcare.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Also known as “Obamacare”, this federal law affects all individuals and groups of employers and employees regardless of whether they are currently covered or not.
The Affordable Care Act required all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. However, the individual mandate and penalties were repealed by the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees are not required to provide health insurance, so if you’re seeking employment and want your employer to offer coverage you’ll need to make sure they’re actually required.
Those with 50 or more employees are subject to different regulations.
- Shared responsibility requirement: Businesses with 50 or more employees are required to offer health insurance to employees or pay a penalty.
- Health insurance marketplaces: States are required to set up an online marketplace where small businesses and individuals can purchase insurance.
- Tax credits: Tax credits have been made available to small businesses for up to 50% in 2014 through the exchange, small business owners must pay at least half of employees’ healthcare premiums and have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees who earn on average less than $50,000 per year.
COBRA is a federal law that affects employers who offer medical coverage. COBRA allows employees to be eligible for healthcare coverage when terminated or under certain circumstances. Employers must employ more than 20 employees (both full-time and part-time employees count) to be subject to COBRA requirements and employees have 60 days after notification of coverage to register.
There are three maximum coverage periods for COBRA :
- 36 Months:
- The death of the covered employee;
- Divorce or separation;
- Covered employee becoming eligible for Medicare; or
- A covered dependent child ceasing to be a dependent child under the provisions of the plan (for example, when a child attains majority age).
- 18 Months:
- The covered employee is terminated (for reasons besides poor conduct or performance); or
- Loss of coverage due to decrease in hours worked.
- 18 to 29 Months: Totally disabled beneficiaries (as defined by the Social Security Act) or who become disabled within 60 days after COBRA coverage begins.
Can I stay on my spouse’s health insurance after our divorce in New Hampshire?
The short answer to this question is, probably for up to three years. However, there are many exceptions and qualifications to this general idea so, if you are in this situation, you should get advice that applies to you specifically. You’ll want your legal team to review your case and the specifics of it to ensure that you meet the guidelines of New Hampshire state law.
New Hampshire laws on continued coverage after Divorce:
(RSA 415:18, VII b) became effective January 1, 2008 and permits a former spouse to continue to be covered by their spouse’s employee group health insurance policy for up to three years after the divorce decree. This law covers both medical and dental coverage.
A former spouse remains eligible for coverage until one of the following events occurs, whichever is earliest:
1. Three (3) years from the final decree of divorce or legal separation;
2. Remarriage of either the covered employee of the former spouse;
3. Death of the covered employee; or
4. Such earlier time as provided in the final decree.
Divorce can be a confusing situation and is almost always full of a range of emotions. If you’re looking for an experienced family law team to help you navigate this time and come to the best resolution possible, get in touch with our legal team to learn more about how we can be of service to you.