No one likes to think about the “worst case scenario,” but planning for life’s unforeseen setbacks is an essential ingredient to a successful transition to single parenthood.
Healthcare coverage is a critical issue, and you need to know what your available coverage is as soon as possible. Many spouses are covered through their partner’s insurance. This is a critical issue at divorce time because continuation of coverage for adults under a spouse’s plan can be expensive and limited.
Typically, the spouse with the best coverage will continue to cover the children after the divorce. It is extremely tempting to make this issue one about power and control. Parents fight to have the coverage so that are not subject to the other person’s control over the reimbursements, or they fight not to have control because “she has custody, it should be her responsibility” or “he can do it as child support.”
These issues divert attention away from what your children need. Better to get your children into the best long term plan, and then work out details about reimbursement procedures. If you don’t have other coverage available to you, find out how long you can stay on your spouse’s insurance plan after the divorce.
You can continue your spouse’s employer-provided insurance through a special law called COBRA. If you need to sign up for COBRA coverage (currently provided for a maximum of 3 years) investigate how much it will cost. COBRA coverage is the same coverage that you now receive from your spouse’s employer, only the employer doesn’t pay the premium after the divorce is finalized. Either you or your spouse must pay the COBRA premiums if you elect to take COBRA coverage.
Often, these costs are high. Figure out whether the coverage will be worth it. Ask a lawyer or human resources personnel if there is a legal remedy for you in your state laws that will permit you to stay on your spouse’s insurance longer than COBRA permits.
Decide which parent has the most comprehensive healthcare coverage. Covering your children under both plans, if both you and your spouse have coverage, can also be cost-effective.
Knowing what lies ahead is difficult but planning for the all the variables provide you with the peace of mind you’ll need to get through this difficult process.