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Securing Health Insurance Coverage After an Arkansas Divorce

Divorce can be a financially upsetting change, especially for high-asset couples where one spouse was responsible for a disproportionate share of the family's income. Often, the other spouse wonders how he or she will be able to survive without the partner's salary.

In these cases, maintaining health care coverage is one of the primary concerns. Little Rock divorce lawyers regularly encounter clients who ask if they can stay on their spouse's health insurance after the divorce is finalized.

In the vast majority of cases, this is not possible. However, newly-divorced spouses do have a few coverage options, even if they are not employed or if their employer does not offer health insurance coverage.

The first option is to obtain short-term COBRA coverage. Through COBRA, the spouse can continue under his or her ex-partner's health insurance for up to 36 months. This isn't cheap, though. Most employers won't contribute to an ex-spouse's COBRA coverage, meaning that the entire premium must be paid out-of-pocket.

Another option is to specifically include health insurance coverage as an element of spousal support in the divorce agreement. The benefiting spouse would be responsible for purchasing his or her own insurance and the paying spouse would factor the cost of that insurance into their alimony payments.

In most cases, the second option is the better one. In some cases, COBRA can be more expensive than an individual policy. Plus, health problems that develop during a period of COBRA coverage may be treated as "preexisting conditions" by a subsequent insurer, leading to coverage problems down the road.

It's important to note that children will usually be able to continue coverage under a parent's employer-sponsored health insurance policy, even in cases where that parent does not retain primary custody.

If you are facing an Arkansas divorce, be sure to fully discuss health insurance issues before signing a settlement agreement.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce Questions: Can I Still Get Medical Insurance From My Ex After Divorce?" Jeff Landers, May 7, 2012.

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