Divorce is an emotionally devastating time. Compounding the emotional distress are additional challenges brought on by divorce, including worrying about health insurance. Many people are tied to their spouse’s insurance from work, so when they get a divorce they worry about how they will protect their health to treat a chronic condition or what to do if they become ill. However, divorce does not always mean the loss of health insurance. You may have various options for health insurance after divorce, depending on where you live and how you currently receive benefits.

Can You Take Your Spouse Off Your Health Insurance?

Typically, one spouse cannot remove another spouse before they are divorced. Many counties have standard court orders that automatically apply to all divorce cases or that apply when they are requested. These orders typically instruct the spouses to maintain all types of insurance on their property as well as safeguard their marital assets. Unless there is a court order saying otherwise, you probably will have to keep your spouse off your health insurance until the divorce is finalized.

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Can I Stay On My Ex’s Insurance?

Likewise, your spouse cannot typically remove you from his or her insurance until the divorce is finalized. However, in most cases after the divorce case is finalized, you will most likely be removed from your spouse’s plan. This is because the ex-spouse is usually no longer considered a dependent of the spouse who has health insurance and does not qualify for coverage.

However, there are some states that may allow you to stay on your spouse’s health insurance plan – such as Massachusetts – but remarriage or other issues may affect this coverage. In other states, a couple may technically get divorced but delay the entry of the divorce or resolve financial and custody issues at a time later than the divorce is declared.

Most employer-based insurance plans allow the dependent spouse to seek coverage with COBRA insurance for up to three years following divorce if they pay the premium. COBRA coverage is often much more expensive than the typical premium. Some spouses may include the payment of health insurance in a divorce settlement. 

Health Insurance For The Kids

While health insurance benefits for a spouse may come to an end at the time of divorce, child health insurance after divorce is usually not affected. The divorce settlement or child support order will address how healthcare expenses related to the children will be handled, as well as which spouse is responsible for providing health insurance. In some divorce cases, one parent agrees to provide health insurance. In others, the parents may split the costs of health insurance and/or additional medical expenses. In some states, the amount of child support that is ordered is reduced if the obligated parent is paying for health insurance. In other states, child support is treated separately from the obligation to provide for the payment of health insurance and/or medical expenses.

Getting Health Insurance After Divorce

So, now that you are aware of what happens to health insurance when you get divorced, you will want to know what your options are for obtaining your own health insurance. Depending on where you live and your particular circumstances, some of your options for health insurance after divorce include:


If your spouse dropped you from their plan, you can continue on that plan through divorce health insurance and COBRA. COBRA benefits continue for up to 36 months after a divorce. Not having to worry about obtaining a separate policy during this difficult time in your life may be a welcome relief. However, COBRA coverage is often very expensive. The spouses may not agree who should be responsible for paying these expensive premiums, which may lead to more conflict. 

Employer-Based Coverage

If you have suddenly found the answer to the question “Can a husband legally drop a wife from health insurance” is “yes” because you suddenly find yourself without insurance, another option that you may have is to pursue your own employer-based coverage. You may have recently started a new job and be able to enroll in your new employer’s plan, or you may be able to enroll with an employer where you have worked for a long time even if it is outside the regular enrollment period due to your change of circumstance.

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Coverage

Another option may be to obtain divorce health insurance with Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act provides health insurance for millions of Americans. It provides subsidies that make health insurance more affordable for many people. Subsidies are available to single individuals who make less than four times the federal poverty level. In 2020, the federal poverty level is set at $12,760, so a single person who makes less than $51,040 a year may qualify for a subsidy.

You can apply for coverage during an open enrollment period. You are also eligible to enroll during a special enrollment period that occurs after a qualifying event, such as a divorce. 

Medicare Or Medicaid

The Affordable Care Act also provides health insurance to low-income individuals, which is often referred to as Medicaid. To qualify for this type of health insurance coverage, you will need to have limited assets and income. You apply through the Marketplace.

Medicare is a separate health insurance plan that the federal government provides to individuals over age 65 or who have certain disabilities. Qualification also depends on a person’s work history. Some older spouses who do not qualify for Medicare benefits based on their own work history may qualify based on their ex spouse’s work history.

Health Insurance During Separation

If you are physically or legally separated, you may still qualify to remain on your spouse’s health coverage because you are not technically divorced. Many married individuals choose to stay married but separate so they can stay on their spouse’s insurance. However, some plans may exclude coverage if a couple is separated, so it is important to check first.


So what happens to health insurance after divorce? Can you keep a spouse on insurance after divorce? Can you stay on your spouse’s health insurance after divorce? The answer to these questions like the answer to many questions is “it depends.” You can learn more about your particular situation or how to deal with issues like if you forgot to remove your ex from health insurance after divorce by talking to a knowledgeable divorce lawyer in your state.

5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails
5-Day Divorce Recovery Crash Course. Take the first steps in your recovery and start healing today! Send me the free emails