Once a divorce decree is issued, entitlement to health benefits as a spouse terminates. COBRA was enacted in 1986 and allows temporary healthcare continuation at group rates for ex-spouses. The ex-spouse is responsible for the entire premium. In that regard, it will likely be more expensive than the rate for the employee who is likely receiving an employer contribution toward the premium. Employers with 20 or more employees are required to offer COBRA coverage. The maximum coverage period in the event of divorce or legal separation is 36 months.
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A new alternative to COBRA coverage is the healthcare marketplace. Enrollment is generally at the start of the year however, enrollment is possible throughout the year if there is a qualifying event. Losing prior coverage as a result of divorce, having or adopting a baby, and getting married all constitute qualifying events. The marketplace will generate the plans available based on household income, location and tobacco use. There are four plans ranging from bronze plans which cover 60% of expenses to platinum plans which cover 90%. The monthly premium correlates with the percentage of out-of-pocket expenses that will be covered. The lower the monthly payment the higher the out-of-pocket expenses will be. All plans include routine doctors visits and preventative care, prescriptions, hospitalization and maternity care.
Medicaid is also an option. Eligibility for Medicaid coverage is based on adjusted gross income in relation to federal poverty levels.