During many marriages, it is not uncommon for one spouse to carry the family’s health insurance coverage through his or her employer. This is often the least expensive option for the family. However, if the spouses decide to divorce, you may no longer have access to continued health insurance coverage if your spouse traditionally has provided coverage through his or her employment. While there may be a number of alternatives for medical insurance following a divorce, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) does provide one option for continued health insurance through your former spouse’s employer.

COBRA is a federal law that permits you and any other immediate family members to remain on an employer-sponsored health insurance plan under certain circumstances. One of those circumstances is if you divorce your spouse, who is the employee with the health insurance. Keep in mind, however, that COBRA doesn’t apply to all employers; it applies only to employers that had 20 or more employees in the past year. Additionally, state and local governments are subject to COBRA, but the federal government and certain religious organizations are not subject to COBRA.

The biggest downside to COBRA is that if you opt for coverage under your ex-spouse’s employer, you will be responsible for the entire insurance premium, including the portion that your ex-spouse’s employer pays, plus a two percent administrative fee. In most cases, the whole premium is very expensive. Although choosing insurance coverage pursuant to COBRA may be one of your only options following a divorce, it is best to consider it as a temporary option.

Another potential downside to COBRA is that its coverage is limited. You typically can only maintain COBRA health insurance coverage through your former spouse’s employer up to a maximum of three years. Since it takes time to change insurance plans, you should give yourself plenty of time to find another source of coverage before your COBRA coverage is no longer an option.

No matter what issues your divorce involves, our Washington divorce attorneys can guide you through every step of the court proceedings necessary, as well as any issues lingering following your divorce. We are here to answer your questions, both now and in the future, about your divorce case and the impact that your divorce will have on your family. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we have represented the interests of countless families throughout the legal process.