Details on COBRA & Continuing Health Insurance

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Employers Do Not Have to Offer Coverage after Divorce

In many marriages throughout Colorado and the rest of the country, both spouses are covered under an employer-sponsored group health insurance plan, but only one of the spouses is employed with that company. In other words, there is the primary covered spouse, and the dependent spouse. If a married couple fits this description, and the subject of divorce comes up, most spouses will wonder: what happens to the health insurance coverage after the divorce decree is finalized? Also, can the dependent spouse continue to stay on the employer-sponsored group health insurance plan?

Under current Colorado law, employers don’t have to provide coverage for dependent spouses following a divorce decree. This is the case in every other jurisdiction throughout the country as well. However, under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), dependent spouses have the right to remain on an employer-sponsored plan for up to 36 months after a divorce decree. So, unless an employer wants to be excessively generous, dependent spouses can remain on such a plan as long as they handle the premiums entirely. Dependent spouses are required to notify the health insurance provider within 60 days following the divorce if they intend to stay on the plan.

What if the Primary Covered Spouse Cancels the Policy?

Under current Colorado law – specifically, under Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-107 (4)(b)(I)(D) – primary spouses are prohibited from cancelling the employer-sponsored health insurance plan while the divorce proceedings are underway. Furthermore, the primary spouse also cannot refuse to pay in order to allow the policy to lapse. So, dependent spouses are protected by current Colorado law in this respect.

As mentioned, dependent spouses have the option to remain under the same plan for up to 36 months. After that point, the employer is no longer bound by COBRA. Moreover, there is another important criterion which should be mentioned: the employer with the group health insurance policy must have at least 20 employees to fall under the purview of COBRA. If the number of employees is below 20, then technically the protections of COBRA don’t apply. However, Colorado’s “mini-COBRA” laws may still enable dependent spouses to remain on employer-sponsored group health insurance plans even if the employer has fewer than 20 employees. Dependent spouses will need to address these types of situations on a case-by-case basis.

In most cases, the issue of whether the same coverage will be available is quite pressing because dependent spouses often are unfamiliar with the health insurance marketplace and don’t prefer to shop around. The simplest route, for many spouses, is just to remain on the same plan and continue with the same coverage. Hence, COBRA confers a substantial benefit to many spouses in Colorado and throughout the nation.

Contact the Drake Law Firm for More Information

As mentioned, issues involving health insurance can be highly worrying for many people. Health insurance can be expensive, as we know, and so this worry is not without foundation. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with the Drake Law Firm today by calling 303-261-8111.

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