Divorce is a stressful time, and the financial impact of a separation can be devastating for some people. In addition to possible lost money and housing situations, some spouses may also face a loss of medical coverage. For people who have always worked in the home without maintaining an outside job, the loss of a spouse can be financially devastating as well as emotionally exhausting.

Losing medical insurance benefits is a major concern for some divorcees. Not all jobs offer health insurance, and a private policy can be prohibitively expensive. For people with preexisting conditions, getting private health insurance can be impossible. For this reason, many people wonder if it’s possible to stay on a spouse’s insurance policy after a divorce. Unfortunately, in most cases the answer is “no.”

Medical Benefits After Divorce

There are a few ways to handle health insurance after a divorce. If you or your spouse will be left without insurance, here are some tips:

– Temporary medical benefits can be extended to the individual while the divorce is being finalized. These operate the same way as temporary alimony or child support. This temporary order can be made by the court and may help your spouse to find health insurance before the divorce is finalized.

– COBRA benefits apply to divorcees. While usually used to provide health insurance to people who have lost their jobs, individuals who are recently divorced can also obtain COBRA. These benefits will last for 36 months after the divorce. Unfortunately, COBRA benefits can be very costly, so this may not be the best option for everyone.

– Buy individual health insurance. Health insurance is becoming more affordable for individuals. Although an individual policy will never be as cheap as group health care, it is possible to find a competitive quote. Your spouse may need to opt for a limited policy or one with a high deductible in order to get a good price.

– Take advantage of cheap prescription plans. In addition to health insurance, prescription drug plans are available to provide low-cost pharmaceuticals. These programs can be purchased independently from insurance and help to augment other forms of healthcare, often for a much lower price than an extensive insurance policy.

– Opt for a major medical policy. Instead of purchasing an entire health insurance policy, your spouse can obtain a major medical policy for a much lower rate. This does not pay for regular doctor’s visits or preventive car, but it will cover major medical concerns like hospital stays and emergency room visits.

– Apply for Medicaid. Depending on your spouse’s income, he or she can apply for government assistance for healthcare. This can be a temporary measure that’s much more affordable than COBRA or individual policies. Medicaid is income contingent, and alimony payments may have an effect on it.

– Although spouses cannot obtain health coverage after a divorce, children can. The child’s health insurance should be discussed in the courts while the divorce is settled so that you know for sure who is responsible for what. If children are covered under one parent’s coverage, the other spouse can obtain individual insurance without needing to obtain a family policy. This will reduce the overall cost of healthcare for the family.

Arranging for Medical Coverage

Medical expenses are something that should be addressed during the divorce itself. If one spouse has been primarily responsible for providing health insurance and the other spouse is incapable of replacing that right away, arrangements should be made in the divorce. This can be handled through alimony payments or in addition to the regular alimony. One spouse may even agree to pay the cost of health insurance for the other party after the divorce is finalized.

The problem with this last option is that it leaves the spouse vulnerable if the other person fails to pay for insurance. They may lose coverage and be forced to live without insurance while battling the issue in court. It’s much better to receive financial assistance that can be used on purchasing an insurance policy rather than relying on a divorced spouse to provide insurance.

Although divorces can be painful, it’s important to communicate openly about your needs and make sure that you and your family get the financial assistance that you require. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your divorce attorney and see what can be done to compensate for the loss of your health insurance after the divorce. In the meanwhile, be sure to begin researching alternatives so that you or your spouse can obtain healthcare without relying on your health insurance.