Gray Divorce: What Will Your Health Benefits Be?

According to a 2022 analysis published in the Journals of Gerontology, more than one in three people getting divorced in the United States is over the age of 50, and one in four is over the age of 65.

Divorcing as you near retirement or after retirement involves considerations such as: Will you (or your spouse) lose health insurance? Where can I get coverage if I’m retired and not yet eligible for Medicare? How does being a former spouse affect Medicare costs? Does it have a significant impact?

If you have health insurance through your own employer, not much will change, but if you have Medicare or your partner’s employer insurance, there are some questions you should ask. You may also want to help your ex transition, if that’s your policy.

Here are some things to consider:

Does your employer offer benefits?

If you are still working, does your employer provide health insurance? If so, divorce is considered a life event and you may be eligible for changes to your benefits, such as joining a health insurance plan. You may request a change to your special plan within 30 days after your other coverage ends.

Can I access COBRA?

If you received coverage under your ex-spouse’s employer plan, you may elect coverage under COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) for up to 36 months after your divorce. COBRA applies to group plans for employers with 20 or more employees.

“You should expect your premiums to be significantly higher because you are responsible for paying the entire premium,” said Tamara Durbin, a certified financial planner in Huntington Beach.

Crystal Cox, a certified financial planner in Madison, Wis., said the decision to enroll in COBRA depends in part on her ex-spouse’s coverage, saying, “My husband’s health insurance is great. ” he said. She said, “If I were to get divorced, I would strongly consider using COBRA rather than following my own health plan.”

Have you checked the Marketplace?

For many people, COBRA will be expensive. (Plus, it’s temporary.) Shop the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace to see other plans that may meet your needs and budget. Start at However, your state may have its own marketplace site and you may end up using that. (In California, it’s called Covered California.

If you’re not sure how to choose a plan, your state’s health insurance broker can help you explore your options for free.

“It’s important that people know they don’t have to get through this alone,” Cox said.

Am I eligible for Medicare?

If you’re 65 or older and haven’t signed up for Medicare yet because you were in your ex-spouse’s employer group plan, now is the time to sign up for Medicare. If you lose insurance from your employer, you may qualify for a special enrollment period that allows you to enroll even if it’s not an open enrollment period.

Melinda Cahill, co-founder and CEO of 65 Incorporated, which provides guidance on Medicare, says if you know when your coverage will end, you need to take proactive action. “This is ideal for avoiding gaps in coverage,” she says.

If you are age 65 or older, to qualify for free Medicare Part A, you or your spouse must have worked at least 40 quarters (10 years) and paid Medicare taxes. Most people have enough work history to qualify, but if you don’t, you can qualify for free Part A based on your ex-spouse’s work history, even if you don’t have enough credits yourself. You can get However, the condition is that you have been married to her for at least 10 years. (Your ex-boyfriend must also be at least 62 years old.)

If you haven’t been married for any time, or your ex is under age 61, you’ll pay $506 per month in Medicare Part A in 2023 if you worked and paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters. It will be. If you worked 30 to 39 quarters and paid Medicare taxes, you would pay $278 per month.

If you remarry, you can no longer qualify for free Medicare Part A based on your ex-spouse. “However, you can qualify based on your new spouse’s background, but they also need to have enough credits and be 62 years old,” says Cameron Valadez, a certified financial planner in Riverside. .

Divorce can also affect the cost of Medicare Part B and Part D, which require you to pay additional premiums if your income exceeds the threshold. If you pay the Income-Based Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) and your household income decreases after your divorce, you can submit a request for a reduction in your premiums.

Ashford writes for personal finance sites Nerd wallet. This article was distributed by The Associated Press.

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