If your spouse is a current or retired federal employee, you likely haven’t given much thought to your health insurance in a long time, since you’ve been eligible through them for Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB). If you’re divorcing, however, you need to know how to continue with that coverage or get other insurance.
This may not be at the top of your list of things to worry about, but it needs to be somewhere high on that list. Once the divorce becomes final, your coverage will need to change.
The good news is that under the Spouse Equity Act, you likely can continue to receive FEHB coverage, but it will need to be in your name. You won’t be able to qualify under their Self Plus One or Self and Family plan. (Your children will, however, as long as they meet the age requirement.)
Requirements for continued coverage
The former spouse of a federal employee or retiree can enroll in their own FEHB plan if they meet the following requirements:
- They were covered under their spouse’s FEHB plan for at least one day in the 18 months before the divorce.
- They’re eligible to receive part of their spouse’s Federal Employee Retirement Services (FERS) retirement or survivor annuity.
- The divorce occurred while the federal employee worked for the government or received an annuity.
If you meet these qualifications, you can have your own FEHB plan until and unless you remarry before you turn 55.
Note that if you choose to continue to get insurance through the FEHB program, it’s not automatic. Within 60 days of your final divorce decree, you need to sign up for a new plan.
If you have minor children, you and your soon-to-be ex will need to determine who will carry the kids on their plan. This would likely be part of your custody and support agreements.
What if you don’t meet the requirements?
If you don’t qualify for continued FEHB coverage, the program offers temporary continuation of coverage (TCC) that you can keep for up to three years following the divorce. You’ll need to apply for this. Whatever you decide to do, it’s best not to wait until the last minute. How much you will be paying for health insurance (no matter where you get it) may be a factor in spousal support.
There’s a lot to consider as you divorce to make sure you’re leaving the marriage with the financial security you need. Having experienced legal guidance is crucial.