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As part of our divorce settlement I'm supposed to keep my ex wife on my health insurance. We have no kids. Now I'm getting re-married and I'm wondering what the heck I should do because I'm pretty sure the insurance company isn't going to let me have two wives on my health insurance policy. How do I fix this? Can I remove my ex from the health insurance? Thanks.

 
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Health insurance for ex spouse in Massachusetts

Generally speaking, if the employer of the spouse who carries the health insurance participates in a self-insurance plan, something that typically occurs only with larger companies, then federal law applies, not the state law discussed below, and the employer is not required to maintain the health insurance of the other spouse after divorce.  In that case the spouse might look into COBRA coverage, as discussed below, to maintain her insurance after the divorce. 

In the more common scenario, where the employer is not self-insured, then the employer is required to continue health insurance coverage of the other spouse.  Typically, the Rule 411 Automatic Restraining Order maintains the status quo regarding the health insurance during the resolution of the divorce case.  After that, the judgment for divorce takes over and usually will address the issue of insurance.  So, it is important for parties, through their attorneys, to make sure appropriate language is inserted in the Order to deal with the health insurance issue.

 

For those who are interested, here are some relevant portions of the law.  Under Massachusetts General Laws, insurers are in some cases required to continue coverage to a divorced ex-spouse of a group member under a private employer supported health plan.  See Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 175, Section 110I, Chapter 176A, Section 8F and Chapter 176B, Section 6B (regarding Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans); Chapter 176G, Section 5A (regarding HMOs); and Chapter 176I, Section 9 (regarding preferred provider arrangements).   MA General Laws Chapter 32A, Section 11A and Chapter 32B, Section 9H extend similar protections to state, county and municipal employees. 

Generally, the insurer will continue coverage if the divorce order requires one ex spouse to provide health insurance for the other.  Chapter 175, Section 110I(a) states that the member's spouse "shall be and remain eligible" for health insurance coverage under the plan "as if said judgment had not been entered."  However, this Section states: "Such eligibility shall continue through the member’s participation in the plan until the remarriage of either the member or such spouse, or until such time as provided by said judgment, whichever is earlier."  This language allows the insurer to refuse coverage after either divorced party has remarried.

As to your specific question, I would take a careful look at the court order from your divorce.  That order likely has language discussing your obligations regarding health insurance for your ex.  If the order does not spell out your obligations re health insurance, and you and your ex are not able to work out the issue amicably, you may want to discus this matter with your MA divorce lawyer or go back to the family court for instructions or to request a modification of the order.  Good luck.

 

COBRA and divorce

This is a complicated area of the law, and those with questions should check with a divorce attorney for the best plan of action.  In addition to the options discussed above, a dependent spouse may also qualify for a continuation of health insurance coverage under federal law: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (aka COBRA), 29 U.S.C. ß 1161.  This law might be relevant if the insured spouse works for an employer with 20 or more employees.  If the employer offers health insurance, then it must continue that coverage to divorced and separated spouses of employees.
 
Essentially, if the spouse was covered on the day before the divorce, then he or she is a "qualified beneficiary" and may choose to continue coverage for up to 36 months.  This option may end if the premiums for the health insurance are not paid; if the spouse becomes eligible for Medicare; the spouse becomes eligible for a different group insurance plan that covers all her pre-existing conditions; or if the spouse's ex's employer stops offering health coverage to its employees.

Health Insurance

My Ex-husband is required to cover our children and myself (until I remarry). He left his job back in October and since November 12 we have had NO coverage at all. What can I do about this? I am more concerned for the children that have doctor/eye appoints in the next few weeks.

Continuation of my Orginal Post, because she is Pregnant Again!

OK...so I get what the MA Law says regarding maintaining health insurance for a former spouse...I cannot believe that I am the first person to have to deal with this issue. Additionally she is pregnant with another child, that would make 2 children from her boyfriend that my insurance is paying for, there has to be some judgement or case on this...

continuation of Health Insurance post-divorce

Dear plymouthmess2: Your question has me a bit confused, so please follow-up if you have additional questions. Assuming neither you nor your ex-wife remarried after the divorce, and your divorce decree required you to continue to cover your ex-wife on your employer's health insurance.....the insurance provided to her would likely cover her pregnancies. Your employer provided health coverage would not cover her subsequent children; they are not your responsibility. It does seem unfair that your employer has to cover her pregnancies, but absent some language in the employer's policy exempting future pregnancies of former spouses, that's how it is. If this does not address your concerns please follow-up with more precise factual information. Local Lawyer

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