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What to do if you lose health insurance coverage in divorce

If your health insurance comes through your spouse's employer, you should worry about health care coverage after divorce. You may even rethink untying the knot if you have significant health care needs - especially given all the uncertainty currently surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Although it's important to think through the financial consequences of divorce, you certainly shouldn't stay in an unhappy marriage solely for the health insurance. After all, that hardly seems healthy.

Even if you're on your spouse's health care plan now, you don't have to go uninsured after your divorce. Here are three options for continuing coverage after divorce:

1. Insurance through your employer

You've probably already thought of this if it's available to you, but you should also know that you don't have to wait until the next open enrollment period to sign up if you lose health insurance coverage after divorce. Many employee-subsidized insurance plans allow employees to enroll outside of the open enrollment period if they are going through a "life event," such as a divorce.

2. Insurance through New York's individual marketplace

Even if big changes are coming to the ACA, you can still sign up for coverage through New York's individual marketplace. As with employer insurance plans, if you've lost coverage due to divorce, you don't have to wait for the open enrollment period to sign up.

3. Staying on your current plan through COBRA

COBRA, which has been around far longer than the ACA, allows people to continue to get coverage through most employer-sponsored health care plans after events such as job loss and divorce. This isn't always the cheapest option, but if you like your current plan, it's worth checking out. You can't stay on your current plan forever, but you can keep it for up to three years after your divorce.

If you're concerned about being able to afford insurance on your own, remember that health care costs will figure into the division of finances in your divorce settlement. Your attorney can negotiate so that your divorce settlement sets you up for a successful life after divorce - and this includes maintaining the health care coverage you need.

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