Divorce and Health Insurance Planning: Part One

Are you shocked to learn that you will be dropped from your spouse’s health insurance plan as soon as the ink dries on your divorce final judgment? For a spouse who has enjoyed getting health insurance benefits through a husband or wife’s work plan, it can be a daunting task to figure out health coverage for your newly single self in today’s health insurance marketplace.  If you are employed, you will likely qualify for immediate health insurance coverage from your employer. Count yourself lucky.

If you aren’t employed or self-employed, life just got a little harder, but there is help available to steer you through the health insurance marketplace maze. Obamacare …. love it or hate it, but use it if works for your situation. The government’s health insurance website will acquaint you with the many plan offerings in your geographic area and even calculate whether you are eligible for a subsidized premium payment. If you prefer to work through a private insurance agent, try to find an independent agent who sells policies from a number of well-known health insurance companies.

Choosing the right health insurance plan for your situation can be overwhelming without a checklist of important considerations. First, be aware that almost all plans have provider lists of doctors, hospitals, therapists and other health providers who are considered “in network” for that plan. Using only in network medical providers will keep your out of pocket expenses as low as possible on your plan. If your choice of doctors is important to you, be sure your doctor is on the plan’s provider list. Also understand that your preferred doctor, hospital or other health provider could drop off of the list at any time.

Is the monthly premium cost your main concern? Low monthly premiums usually accompany plans with high deductibles/copays/coinsurance, requiring you to sometimes pay a hefty sum before your insurance coverage even kicks in. On the bright side, the fees you will be charged by network providers will usually be substantially lower than retail fees or non-network provider fees for medical services.

Some high deductible plans allow doctor visits for a relatively small copay amount per visit, regardless of whether you have met your deductible. Look for this type of plan if you want to keep your monthly premium costs low but still have reasonable access to seeing your doctors when necessary. Joining a high deductible plan may also give you eligibility to open a Health Savings Account, a tax strategic account that should not be overlooked.

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