If you are filing for divorce and considering how to save money, whatever you do, don’t cancel your spouse’s health insurance. It may seem like a great idea to start making plans for your post-divorce budget, but until you have completed your separation agreement and it’s been approved by the court, you shouldn’t make any changes to your finances. Your separation agreement and the court will determine who will be responsible for which debts during the separation period. Ohio law is very clear in this regard, and you will regret jumping the gun and terminating your spouse’s health coverage. If you choose to terminate coverage in violation of this law, not only will it prove an expensive mistake, but it could also give you a bad reputation with the court and judge presiding over your divorce.
From the Ohio Revised Code 3105.71(A): Prohibiting cancellation of health insurance during pendency prior to the court’s determination of responsibility.
If a party to an action for divorce, annulment, dissolution of marriage, or legal separation was the named insured or subscriber under, or the policyholder, certificate holder, or contract holder of, a policy, contract, or plan of health insurance that provided health insurance coverage for that party's spouse and dependents immediately prior to the filing of the action, that party shall not cancel or otherwise terminate or cause the termination of such coverage for which the spouse and dependents would otherwise be eligible until the court determines that the party is no longer responsible for providing such health insurance coverage for that party's spouse and dependents.
When you and your spouse are in the process of dissolving your marriage, you may need to sit down and think through some important financial issues. While you may be concerned about making ends meet in preparation for splitting your household, don’t make any rash decisions regarding your spouse. The same section of the state code goes further to reiterate that you will still be required to pay for medical coverage for your spouse if you ignore these orders.
From the Ohio Revised Code 3105.71(B:1-2):
If the party responsible for providing health insurance coverage for that party's spouse and dependents under division (A) of this section fails to provide that coverage in accordance with that division, the court shall issue an order that includes all of the following: (1) A requirement that the party make payment to that party's spouse in the amount of any premium that party failed to pay or contribution that party failed to make that resulted in that party's failure to provide health insurance coverage in compliance with division (A) of this section; (2) A requirement that the party make payment to that party's spouse for reimbursement of any hospital, surgical, and medical expenses incurred as a result of that party's failure to comply with division (A) of this section;
According to state law, if you cancel your spouse’s health insurance coverage during the pendency period before the court has established responsibility for coverage, you will be required to make payments to cover any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by your spouse. You will also be required to pay premium costs for the lost coverage, so your spouse can secure private health insurance. Additionally, the final provision of the law states that during this separation period, your spouse has access to your coverage equal to your access.
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Whether it’s done out of anger or out of an impulsive sense that you need to move forward with your life, whatever the reason, it is never wise to make significant changes to your financial picture during your divorce without consulting your legal representation. Once the divorce is finalized, you can make preparations for your future. If you are a beneficiary of your spouse’s health insurance coverage, you may qualify for health insurance from the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for up to 36 months after your divorce is finalized. You will be required to pay for this transfer of services, but it will give you time to find a suitable replacement plan you can afford.