Detailing COBRA coverage guidelines

Many in Alexandria may view spousal support as being limited to alimony payments. Yet there may be other ways through which one is obligated to support their ex-spouse after their marriage has ended. Given that (according to the U.S. Census Bureau) over 67 percent of Americans have their health insurance coverage through a private plan, there is a strong possibility in many divorce cases that one spouse was covered under the other’s plan (which in most cases is offered through their employer). If that spouse is not able to immediately secure gainful employment (that offers benefits), are they to be left uncovered after their divorce becomes final?

Fortunately, federal lawmakers understand the potential for such a scenario occurring and have enacted legislation to address it. The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act allows people who are no longer affiliated with the organizations that sponsored their group health plan coverage to continue to have access to it. This allows them time to find new coverage without having to worry about being saddled with medical debt if they need to seek treatment before enrolling in a new plan. Information shared by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that in order to qualify for COBRA coverage, one’s case meets the following criteria:

  • Their group health plan coverage must have been sponsored by a company subject to COBRA regulations
  • They must be an eligible beneficiary of such coverage
  • They must have experienced a significant life event

Private companies (along with state and local agencies) that employ more than 20 people are covered by COBRA’s standard. To be a qualified beneficiary, one must have been eligible for coverage under their group health plan the day prior to their significant life event occurring. Finally, divorce is indeed considered to be a qualifying event.

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Russell W. Ray, PLLC
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Alexandria, VA 22310

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