Modern Family Matters

How to Protect Yourself From Losing Health Insurance During a Divorce

October 19, 2020 with Gladys Boutwell Season 1 Episode 15
Modern Family Matters
How to Protect Yourself From Losing Health Insurance During a Divorce
Chapters
Modern Family Matters
How to Protect Yourself From Losing Health Insurance During a Divorce
Oct 19, 2020 Season 1 Episode 15
with Gladys Boutwell

Certified Insurance Counselor, Gladys Boutwell, discusses what happens to health insurance in a divorce and how to protect yourself from losing your insurance.

Once a divorce decree is obtained, the spouse that has health coverage would go to their employer with proof of the marriage ending, and request for their spouse and/or children or dependents to be removed.

Once the removal happens, for the most part, the coverage in Oregon will continue until the last day of the month. However, there are circumstances when that end-of-coverage will happen the day that it is being requested, which are plans that are called 'self-funded,' and are usually larger employers that have those self-funded or hybrid self-funded plans. 

The party who has lost coverage will typically get notified that their coverage is ending, with alternative options, such as going through marketplace, or directly with the carrier. 

Using a broker or agent to explore healthcare options is advisable because it won’t cost you any more than if you were to do it yourself.

If you would like to speak with one of our family law attorneys regarding your unique family law matter, call our office at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a free consultation, or visit our website at https://www.landerholmlaw.com/. To learn more about Gladys Boutwell, you can do so here: https://www.insurancedesignpros.com/ 

Show Notes Transcript

Certified Insurance Counselor, Gladys Boutwell, discusses what happens to health insurance in a divorce and how to protect yourself from losing your insurance.

Once a divorce decree is obtained, the spouse that has health coverage would go to their employer with proof of the marriage ending, and request for their spouse and/or children or dependents to be removed.

Once the removal happens, for the most part, the coverage in Oregon will continue until the last day of the month. However, there are circumstances when that end-of-coverage will happen the day that it is being requested, which are plans that are called 'self-funded,' and are usually larger employers that have those self-funded or hybrid self-funded plans. 

The party who has lost coverage will typically get notified that their coverage is ending, with alternative options, such as going through marketplace, or directly with the carrier. 

Using a broker or agent to explore healthcare options is advisable because it won’t cost you any more than if you were to do it yourself.

If you would like to speak with one of our family law attorneys regarding your unique family law matter, call our office at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a free consultation, or visit our website at https://www.landerholmlaw.com/. To learn more about Gladys Boutwell, you can do so here: https://www.insurancedesignpros.com/ 

Intro:

Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast hosted by Steve Altishin, our Director of Client Partnerships here at Landerholm Family Law. We are devoted to exploring topics within the realm of family law that matter most to you. Our discussions will cover a wide range of both legal and personal issues that accompany family law matters. We strongly believe that life events such as marriages, divorces, re-marriages, births, adoptions, children, growing up, growing older, illnesses and deaths do not dissolve a family. Rather, they provide the opportunity to reconfigure and strengthened family dynamics in healthy and positive ways. With expertise from qualified attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcasts will help provide answers, clarity, and guidance for the better tomorrow for you and your family. Without further ado, your host, Steve Altishin.

 

Steve Altishin  1:12  

Hello everyone. I'm Steve Altishin. Thanks for joining me for another broadcast of Modern Family Matters. Today I have Gladys Boutwell, a Certified Insurance Counselor, here with me to discuss what happens to health insurance in a divorce and how to protect yourself from losing your insurance. So Gladys, before we start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

 

Gladys Boutwell  1:35  

Yeah, thank you so much for having me today, Steve, and thank you to your audience for being here today. A little bit about me. I have over 20 years of experience in corporate America. I've been in financial services my entire career. I was in financial services, mainly on the tech side of things, and payroll. So that's where the majority of my history is. I have also gone through credit and collections internationally, and that was a lot of fun to do. And I got my MBA from University of Laverne in Laverne, California, with an emphasis on international business, and leadership and management. So I got to do a concentration. And then I became a certified payroll professional because I was in the payroll industry. So when I got into insurance back in 2013, it really fell in line with a lot of what I had done before, because I started working with small business owners. And with health insurance, and employee benefits, it goes in through payroll. And then of course, with my background, I was able to understand how it worked, how the pre-tax, post-tax dollars worked. So that made it a lot of fun. I'm now a certified insurance counselor, which means that I do a lot of educating myself on the industry, so that I stay up to date with everything that is insurance. Not just health insurance, but on the liability side, business side. So if it has to do with insurance, I usually know enough to get myself in trouble sometimes. But I thoroughly enjoy being able to work with business owners to help them reach their goals as well as their employees. And I actually wrote a book, Health Insurance Secrets Revealed. It reached number one on Amazon's best selling. And it teaches people how to understand their insurance, because that is so important. Most people don't understand insurance. And so I try to simplify it for them so that they understand how to use it in order to make it easier for them to keep more of their money without having to go out of network and then spend too much money. So that's a little bit about me.

 

Steve Altishin  3:54  

Well thank you, you're the perfect person to talk about this stuff today. Because, while some of it is legal and has the 'what you do in a divorce' legality part, much of this is based on insurance rules and insurance law. And so thanks, that's wonderful. So I'm going to start with, you and I both know that it's pretty common in marriages, and in partnerships, for one spouse or partner to maintain the medical insurance for the entire family. And sometimes one spouse has cheaper insurance or higher quality coverage, or maybe a spouse doesn't work, or works with an employer that doesn't provide health insurance. Whatever the case, divorce can really make a difference and change that arrangement, can't it?

 

Gladys Boutwell  4:48  

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. A lot of things can happen during pre-divorce, divorce proceedings, and after divorce, and sometimes it takes a long time for that process to happen. So a lot of things can happen from the time that the conversation is had of 'This is what needs to happen,' to when it actually happens. A lot can happen in between.

 

Steve Altishin  5:09  

Oh my gosh. Well, kind of starting there, if someone terminates their spouses, or their partners, or their children's insurance, can they just do that? Can they do it before a divorce? While a divorce is ongoing? After a divorce? How does that work?

 

Gladys Boutwell  5:28  

Well, it depends. Can they? Yes. Should they? Probably not. So there's the part of, 'Should they be doing it?' Well, no, they probably should not because a decision hasn't been made on their final divorce decree that might require them to maintain their spouses and/or their children's health insurance. But can they actually physically remove somebody? It can and it has happened. And here's the reason why: it depends on the employer. If they go to their employer and say, 'I need to remove my spouse, because I'm no longer married,' or 'I'm separated,' or whatever it may be, their employer may require proof of loss, or they may not. And if they don't require proof of coverage somewhere else, some employers will require that before they allow that termination to happen. They want to make sure that everybody in the family is whole. Other employers will simply terminate. You fill out the little form that says, 'Remove on this date,' and they will remove them and not require proof of anything. And if it's open enrollment for the employee during that time, it just so happens that it's that month of their open enrollment, they can remove a spouse or children without anybody questioning it. Because during open enrollment, you can add or remove somebody without any proof of a special election. So can it happen? Yes, it can. Should it happen? No, it should not. 

 

Steve Altishin  7:05  

Yep. So let's say I'm on my spouse's or my partner's health insurance, and we're getting divorced. There's a divorce and the divorce becomes final. And that's normally when this coverage may end, isn't that correct? 

 

Gladys Boutwell  7:24  

Yes. 

 

Steve Altishin  7:24  

So then what happens? How does the process of the disengagement, I guess you would say, of the two people on the same insurance policy occur?

 

Gladys Boutwell  7:37  

So what will happen is once the divorce decree code is out there, the spouse that has the coverage would go to their employer and say, 'Here's my proof of the ending of the marriage. I want to remove my spouse and/or children or dependents'. They're called dependents, even if, let's say that there's the husband and the wife and the wife makes more than the husband, but the insurance is under the husband, anybody under it are considered dependents. So it doesn't have to mean that they are fully dependent, it's just a terminology that's used. So any dependents, they can remove them. They fill out the paperwork, or they do it online, depending again on the employer, requesting that removal. Once the removal happens, for the most part, not always, but for the most part, the coverage in Oregon will go to the last day of the month. So say the divorce happened today, then the coverage will end at the end of the month, most of the time. However, there are times when that end-of-coverage will happen the day that it is being requested. And those are plans that are called 'self-funded,' which are usually larger employers that have those self-funded or hybrid self-funded plans. They look similar to any other plan, but it just depends on the employer. So it's always important to ask the benefits person or the HR person, 'When is this coverage going to end?' If there's an amicable divorce, a lot of times the spouse that holds the insurance will let the other spouse know, 'Your insurance is going to end on this day.' Now, usually the they are notified. The party that has lost coverage will normally get notified saying, 'This is your last day of coverage. Here are your options.' You can either go through marketplace or directly with the carrier. You can and it all depends again on how large the employer is. Is it over 20 employees or under 20 employees? If the employer has less than 20 employees, then they would get a notice saying state continuation if it is over 20, then they would get documents that would be Cobra. So most people have heard of Cobra, which usually means that the plan will continue as is. So they have multiple options. So they have Cobra or stay continuation, depending on group size. They have marketplace, which means that they would go to healthcare.gov or get an insurance broker agent to help them submit the application and get enrolled in a plan. They can go directly with the insurance carrier, or I always suggest to use a broker or an agent because it's not going to cost them any more than what they would if they do it themselves. However, the broker agent will usually help simplify the process for them, especially if you've just gone through a divorce. There are so many emotions going on, and it's hard to think clearly. There's just a lot going on. A broker is going to help them clarify questions, answer, and do a lot for them to make it easier. There's also Medicaid, which here in Oregon it's Oregon Health Plan, based on the family size as well as income. And then if the person is 65 or over, they might qualify for Medicare, or they might already be on Medicare, maybe not. And then there's a supplement that goes with that. And then you get your VA TRICARE, things of that nature. So there are multiple options, and the person may or may not know what they qualify for. And that's where an insurance professional can help them answer the questions and help them see what the best option is for them that's going to make sense for them.

 

Steve Altishin  11:26  

Well, that sounds like they have a ton of options, actually. So let's talk a little bit about some of the differences and what situations someone may be in to make them want to choose one or the other. I wanted to start with, what if the person has their own employer who they don't have insurance with, because they're with their spouse who had it. Can they go to their employer and say, "Hey, I want to get insurance right away"?

 

Gladys Boutwell  11:59  

Yes. So that is another option, absolutely. Sometimes spouses are under the one plan like you mentioned, because it's either more cost effective, or it's better coverage. But if the spouse that's losing their coverage has insurance through their employer, the mere fact that they are losing their coverage through no fault of their own, that is a special election period. So it allows them to take that letter that says, 'This is my last day of coverage', and go to their employer and get enrolled in their employers plan under that special election period, because they have a qualifying event. The loss of other coverage is that qualifying event. And so the employer will have them fill out the form either online or on paper. They'll ask, 'What's the date of the qualifying event', which is because the insurance companies are asking that. And the employer may ask for the proof of it, and that way they keep it in the file. So having that letter that says when the last day of coverage is is very important. And the employer will be contributing at least 50% of the employee-only premium, which is a good thing. That means that they don't have to cover 100% of it. If they go on to a continuation or Cobra, they're paying 100% of the Premium, plus a certain fee on top of that. Going through their employer might be more cost-effective for them and maybe even a good coverage plan.

 

Steve Altishin  13:29  

If they go on their own employers group plan, or if they go, like you said, to the marketplace and get an individual plan, those are not the same plans that they were on before, right?

 

Gladys Boutwell  13:47  

Probably not. Usually group plans have a broader, not always but most of the time, there's an option for a broader network of providers. When you go with individual plans, a lot of the individual plans require having medical homes or asking for referrals. There may be no out of network coverages, there might be limits to the number of visits. So there are a lot of different things when you're looking at individual plans. Route plans, and depending again on what plan they enrolled in, might allow them to go out of network and pay a percent versus the back copay, that flat dollar, if they're in network. They have that flexibility. They may have a larger network of providers. So if they're going to a specific provider, the individual plan may or may not have that same provider in their network. So then, under the carrier they have, they're seeing providers and then looking for that. So try to near as close to, but most of the time it's not going to be the same. Deductibles and max out of pockets might be similar, but the network of providers in the hospital system may differ.

 

Steve Altishin  15:02  

Yeah. Then COBRA, which is the same exact plan, isn't that correct? 

 

Gladys Boutwell  15:09  

Correct.

 

Steve Altishin  15:10  

So if I'm on Cobra, and I'm in the middle of the year, let's say. And I know that I've got some deductibles I may have used up, and I may have had some other coverage or stuff happen. So I've had to pay for that. If I were to take COBRA, would I have to pay all those over again? Am I on a different set of plans for them? Or is it really just continuing my old plan?

 

Gladys Boutwell  15:39  

So if you stay on COBRA and on that same exact plan, your deductible, your max out of pocket, anything that you've already put into it or spent, will continue on for the rest of the year. If you move on to an individual plan, or even your own group plan, you start all over. So those are things to consider. How much have you spent on your services? If you've not used your insurance, if you've only done an annual physical and maybe some labs, then going on another plan is no big deal because you haven't spent any money towards that deductible. But if you've already either met the deductible or met the max out of pocket, and you're already on a plan with your providers, you may want to stick with that plan. And it might beehoove the person to, yes, pay more, but is it better to spend a little bit more monthly on the premium, or is it better starting all over with another $4,500 deductible and an $8,150 max out of pocket? Which one is going to be more cost effective? And that's where an insurance professional can help them decide that. Look at the numbers, look at what their needs are to help them really decide what's best for them. But yeah, the plan, either in state continuation or Cobra, would be the exact same plan, and the continuation of deductible and max out of pocket for the remainder of that calendar year, because deductible start all over on January 1.

 

Steve Altishin  17:07  

There are a lot of things that you have to consider here. It's not always bad news, the good news is that there are a lot of things that you can consider here. Going back to Cobra, and actually all of these, what about your kids? Let's say I have two children, are they having these same options, or is it just for the spouse?

 

Gladys Boutwell  17:34  

No, the children do also. And even with a family of two adults, two children, there are limits that the children can still be on CHIP or Medicaid or Oregon Health Plan, depending on how you want to call it. They can qualify based on family size and income. So there are a lot of times that the children are already on the Oregon Health Plan on the CHIP program, and it's only about the spouse coming off the company plan or the spouse's plan. But if the children are on the company plan and they're coming off, if it is not required, and sometimes the courts will require the one parent to pay for the coverage for their children, they can remove the ex spouse and keep the children on their plan. And so then the ex spouse gets their own and the children stay on the company plan. And one of the good reasons to keep the children on your own, if it's the spouse that has to pay for the insurance, is that it's pre-tax dollars. And so they're covering them with probably a decent plan, pre-tax dollars, versus having to pay an individual plan, post tax dollars. But then again, the children could potentially qualify for Oregon Health Plan, and it's looking at the overall situation, which is really hard. But if we take emotion out of it and look at what's best for the children? What's best economically for the person that is having to provide the insurance? Is it keeping them on their plan? Or is it looking at an individual plan or looking to see if they qualify for Oregon Health Plan? So there are options for the children, too.

 

Steve Altishin  19:15  

Are there any limits on the COBRA coverage or on the Oregon continuation coverage? Can they just do it till they don't want to do it? Or are there some limits there?

 

Gladys Boutwell  19:28  

There are limits. So under state continuation, it's nine months that they can keep the coverage. And for COBRA, it's 36 months. Now they can drop it sooner than that. So if they just needed the remainder of this year, but I want to go on an individual plan because it is going to be a lot less expensive, I don't need to worry about my deductible, my max out of pocket, my providers are in network. They can drop it after X number of months. They can do their open enrollment, get on an individual plan. They can do the same with COBRA. But I actually came across some families that they had been laid off, and so they're now on COBRA. And looking at the dollars, it was gonna behoove them to stay on COBRA because they were in their 60s. COBRA was actually less expensive than individual plans because of their income leaving, they didn't qualify for any tax credits, which meant they had to pay 100% of the premium. Paying COBRA, even with the fee, was less expensive. But I said once that runs out, 36 months later, call me and then we'll look at individual plans. So nine months for state continuation, 36 for COBRA.

 

Steve Altishin  20:44  

Again, I was saying that's a lot to consider. And to throw a whole nother consideration to the mix, let's talk ACA, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare some people call it. Whatever people want to call it, that throws in an entirely new twist on making this decision. Because isn't it right that on Obamacare, on the ACA again, the Affordable Care Act, you may qualify for a discount that you wouldn't with COBRA or by keeping on the covered somehow?

 

Gladys Boutwell  21:23  

Right. When it comes to the marketplace, or the Affordable Care Act, because really the Affordable Care Act encompasses a lot, including the group plans that are out there. There are all of the 10 essential health benefits--that is under both individual and group plans. So unless you're self funded, you're having to, at this point, combine across the board. But when we're looking at that tax credit, and cost sharing assistance, the tax credit is a dollar amount that is given to the person per month or yearly, depending on how they want to take it, most people take it per month, based on their household size and income. When it comes to cost sharing, that is reducing the deductible and reducing the max out of pocket and reducing the copays. So if somebody has a plan that has a $4,500 deductible, depending on their income and household size, it may bring that deductible down to $1,500, $750, or even $500 for the deductible. The max out of pocket from $8,150 may be brought down to $6,000, or $4,000, or even $2,000. So it just depends. So there are a lot of things to look at. And when somebody is looking at what's the best way, they have to look at 'Okay, what is the anticipated income for this year, or for next year, depending on when we're looking at it?' What's the anticipated income, how many people are in their household? And by their household, I mean the people that they are going to have on their taxes, not just, you know, aunt and uncle and the grandparents who live in their house. It's not that. It's 'Who do you have as dependents on your taxes?' And you must file taxes. That's very, very important because there's reporting that needs to go along when you do your taxes to utilize the 1095 A that you get through marketplace to say, 'Okay, this is the amount of tax credit that I received based on the income that I reported.' And then what the IRS will do, it'll say, 'Okay, you reported this on marketplace, but you reported this on your 1040.' If those don't match, you're either going to have to pay money back to the IRS, or you might get a credit back from the IRS. So we can look at that. And the income can be adjusted at any time during the year. So if somebody gets a raise, then let's make that update. Because if we don't adjust it in the middle of the year and have that tax credit go down where you pay a little bit more, guess what, you're still going to have to pay for it. Now you're going to be at a lump sum at the end of the year versus that extra $20 or $50 every month for the rest of the year.

 

Steve Altishin  24:08  

The whole idea of the ACA and it's discounts is figuring out who's in the household, what makes up the household, but it also makes it about the dependence. And so I kind of wanted to stop here and we hadn't talked about this before, but you've mentioned dependents a couple times and you've said that they're not necessarily the same. And I kind of want to explore that because dependents in the insurance world can include people who are not necessarily going to qualify for dependence within the federal rules and the tax world. Is that true?

 

Gladys Boutwell  25:01  

Yes, your dependents on your taxes may be different than the dependents that you have under the marketplace or even at an employer plan. So on an employer plan, you can only add your spouse and children or adopted children, if you have kids. And there are rules along with that. You cannot add parents to a group plan, you also cannot add parents to your own personal plan. But if you are applying on marketplace and you're looking for that tax credit, and you have a parent, as a dependent that is relying on you, you can put them on there as a family member. Now, if they're already retired, they're on Medicare, but they're still relying on you and they're on your taxes as a dependent, you want to claim them. Because if it is the the head of household, one child, and then the parent, that's a family of three. It's different than if it's a family of two, or a family of one. So you want to include all family members that are on your taxes, because it's the entire household income. And then based on who needs coverage, is it the one person and the child? Or is it just the mother or the father and the child is on Oregon Health Plan? So we want to make sure that we include all dependents as a household unit. That doesn't mean we're going to look for coverage for everybody, it just means we have to claim everybody that's on the taxes because it can make the difference if somebody qualifies for a tax credit, or doesn't qualify for tax credit.

 

Steve Altishin  26:41  

Because the more people in the household, the higher the threshold is for getting the credit. 

 

Gladys Boutwell  26:47  

Correct. 

 

Steve Altishin  26:49  

I like that. We've talked about the ACA, which is kind of the same as other insurances, except you've added whether you get a discount or not. We've talked about COBRA, which is basically keeping the same, at least for a while. And then you mentioned Medicare, and that's interesting. So for older folks, not to say such as myself, that can be a very viable option, can't it? Because there are people getting divorced as they get older.

 

Gladys Boutwell  27:34  

Yeah. Medicare is for those individuals that are 65, are on end stage renal, or have other disabilities. So there are very specific rules. For the most part, it's going to be individuals that have already hit 65. And sometimes somebody is already on Medicare, but also has a group plan. And so they have that dual coverage. And the option that they have if they are on Medicare is to keep their Medicare and then add a supplemental plan to help cover what Medicare doesn't cover. Or if they're not on Medicare, an option is going on Medicare and adding that supplemental plan. So that's kind of the option. If somebody qualifies for Medicare, they cannot go on the marketplace. They're disqualified if they qualify for the coverage. So if somebody qualifies for Oregon Health Plan, if they qualify for a VA, if they qualify for Medicare, they cannot be on marketplace. The marketplace will not, even if they're low income,they will not qualify to receive any tax credit. It would be paid at 100% of the premium of that plan. The other thing is that if somebody qualifies for Medicare, if we get them a plan individually directly with the insurance carrier, the insurance carrier will treat them as though they are on Medicare and won't pay the same. They will pay secondary and they'll say, 'Well, we would only pay X amount of dollars because you are or should be on Medicare.' So if somebody qualifies for Medicare, they truly should be on Medicare. They're going to be better off. The cost of the plan is very different than if you're paying over $1,000 for an individual plan. I mean, that's a lot of money when you can be on the Medicare plan with the supplement plan; sometimes it's very low or you pay nothing, just depending on what supplement plan you get on. And I don't do Medicare. I usually have my other agents that I work with that I say 'Hey, take care of my clients. They're turning 65, take good care of them. This is what they need.' And so then those agents will go into a lot of detail and ask a lot more questions to make sure that the person is getting the coverage that they need based on their particular needs.

 

Steve Altishin  29:55  

I think there's one other sort of interesting coverage. I think it's on the Oregon continuation. And it's for, because you had mentioned about how expensive it is for individuals, let's say age 55 to 65, to get individual insurance because it's rated on age. And it's so expensive that it's actually better if you can just stay on what would normally be a higher cost group plan. But isn't there a way that, following a divorce, someone can get a COBRA-like or continuation type of plan, like on the group plan, and stay on it, where they may not otherwise qualify to do it?

 

Gladys Boutwell  30:47  

I don't know if I quite understand the question. So, they can stay on there the current plan that they're on, so long as they are doing it within, they usually have about 60 days from the ending of the plan. Usually the letters will state, 'You have until this date to opt in for state continuation or COBRA, or you can go into your own group plan.' So if you have an option to go on to your own group plan under your company that you work for, it will disqualify you from getting a tax credit, because it has to be at a certain percentage that you're paying. And with the employer paying at least 50% of the plan, the math doesn't jive. And so the marketplace will actually do the math on it and will say 'Nope, you don't qualify.' So the person would then have to pay a full price. The person could pay full price for a bronze plan with a higher deductible. But we look at how often they need coverage, it's all about their needs. And if being on that bronze plan, even though it's less expensive monthly, it's going to cost them more if they have medical needs. So we always look at the numbers, what is going to be best for the person that needs the coverage, and for how long. And we can make that change every year. So if somebody were to get on a plan for the first of the month coming up, we can still review during open enrollment for next year and say, 'Okay, for this year, you're good here under this plan, but does it make sense to keep on that same plan for next year?' So it's about looking at that every year, because people's needs change every year, and so we want to make sure we address that.

 

I get it, I get it. I want to talk about one last subject here and get back to something you said, which was that there are some deadlines. And this kind of gets back to what we earlier talked about, about how you can be proactive to make sure that your coverage stays protected. Can you kind of expand on that just a little bit of what people should be doing if they're thinking of getting divorced, if they're in the middle of one, when it's finalized? I take it you shouldn't just sit around and wait for something to happen.

 

Right. That's so important. I was talking to somebody last week, and he says, 'Oh, I just found out my coverage ended in June.' Oops, he had no idea. Stay in communication with your ex if you can, that is so important. Asking them, having that conversation as to when their coverage is going to end. That's very important. And staying in contact with the insurance companies. Sometimes the HR people may not know the benefits. People may not know, sometimes they will, sometimes they won't. But calling the insurance company knowing when their last day is, that's very important. Looking at all the documents they're receiving. So if they know that their insurance is going to end, because their divorce is finalized this month, then assume that my coverage is ending at the end of the month. Once the coverage has ended, then they can ask the insurance company to give them a letter of credible coverage. They usually can't get it until after the last day of their coverage. But this letter states when their coverage began, when it ended, and they can use that as proof. So if you know the insurance is ending at the end of this month, you want to get insured the first of next month, you can take care of doing that. You still have to provide proof of loss, which means a letter from the employer, or a notification from COBRA, or state continuation, or a letter from the insurance company saying this is the last day of coverage, whatever it may be. You have to have that coverage or that letter that shows when your coverage ends. Ask! It's very important that you ask. If you're not sure, ask. You can call your ex and say 'Hey, when's the last day of my coverage? Let me know.' And if there's at least that communication, then that's important. And I think keeping the communication with your soon to be ex is the most important piece. Because that way, there's no surprises, especially if you have medical needs, especially if you have children, you don't want that lapse in coverage. Because if I don't find out till next month that my coverage ended this month, now I'm going to be one month without coverage. There are short term policies that the person can get that could be for, usually, it's 30 days, but some of them will allow for two weeks, a week. But for the most part, it's 30 days. So you pay a little bit less for that 30 day coverage, which will give you a chance to get into the next phase. So you have that 60 day window from the last day of coverage, to when you apply for coverage again. That doesn't mean it's gonna start within that 60 days, but you have to apply within 60 days. But ask! Don't just wait around. A lot of emotions are going on. But it's also important to stay on track. If it means a little checkoff list, you know, 'Who do I need to ask?', whether it's the insurance company, whether it's the ex. Trying to find those things out are very, very important.

 

Steve Altishin  36:15  

And I guess bottom line, if someone is worried, call you! Call an insurance agent, because that's what they're there to do. To make sure you don't lapse, they don't miss those deadlines. 

 

Gladys Boutwell  36:30  

Yeah, and we'll ask those questions. Well ask. It's like, 'Do you have the letter that shows when your last day of coverage is?' The answer, for the most part, is 'No, I don't.' And then it's 'Did you get it? Could you ask your ex to get it for you, to provide it?' Some of them will call the employer and say 'I know my coverage is ending, can you confirm the date? And can you write me a letter? Can you send me an email, can you give me something?' Calling the insurance companies, we're going to guide you. Those are things we can't do for you because of HIPAA laws, we're not allowed. But we can guide you as to who to ask, who to go to. And then we can start the processing, start getting things going, so that once we have it, it's like, boom, we submit it. And they give us time, the marketplace will give us time, to submit that document. But we have a certain window to submit it to show proof that the person has lost coverage.

 

Steve Altishin  37:28  

Thank you so much, Gladys. I think what this really shows is that divorce doesn't mean the end of your insurance. There are multiple ways to continue coverage, or to get new coverage, without having that terrible situation where you have an illness or accident and you're not covered. Because it could all go back to the date you had lost coverage,  as long as you stay on top of it. And that's wonderful information.

 

Gladys Boutwell  38:00  

The sooner you start asking those questions, the better. I have people that say 'I know that my last day of employment is three months out', or 'I know I'm going to get divorced, what are my options?' And we start talking about it now so that by the time all that yuckiness and emotions are high, they at least have a plan. They already know 'This is what I'm going to do, I already know.' And it'll make life so much easier. It's one less thing to worry about because you've already started the process. And talk to someone, even if it's not me, if you go to healthcare.gov you can look up local agent assistance in your own state. Especially if you're moving out of state, you're going to find help. Just have somebody. It's not going to cost you any more if you get some help. So why not do it?

 

Steve Altishin  38:47  

That's exactly right. Like you said, insurance agents for health insurance don't get paid directly from you. They get a commission and whether they buy it through you or not, they pay the same. So use the experts. Gladys, thank you so much for being here today. This is wonderful, great information. Anyone who finds themself in this situation, it's going to be helpful for them.

 

Gladys Boutwell  39:12  

Thanks for having me today. This has been great.

 

Steve Altishin  39:16  

It has been wonderful. I also want to thank everyone who's tuned in today, and also encourage you to ask any questions you've got from today's broadcast. Just shoot me an email. I'm at steve@landerholmlaw.com, I can get you connected with Gladys. So feel free. If you've got questions, this is the time to ask. And until next time everyone, stay well. Stay happy. Have a great day. Adios!

 

Outro:

You're listening to Modern Family Matters a legal podcast, focusing on providing real answers and direction for individuals and families as they navigate the growths, changes, and challenges of creating their new family dynamics. Modern Family Matters is sponsored by Landerholm Family Law, serving Oregon and the Pacific Northwest and devoted to providing clients with compassionate and fierce legal advocacy with a firm belief in the importance of upholding the family unit amidst complex transitions. If you are in need of legal counsel or have additional questions about a family law matter important to you, you can visit our Landerholm Family website www.landerholmfamilylaw.com, or call us at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a case evaluation with one of our seasoned attorneys. Modern Family Matters, advocating for your better tomorrow and offering solutions on legal matters, important to the modern family.